Monday, November 2, 2015

First Harlan's Hawk of the winter season in Canon City

While they breed in and near Alaska, Harlan's Red-tailed Hawks winter in parts of eastern Colorado. In the past several years I have been delighted to find a number of Harlan's Hawks in south central and southeastern Colorado including my home town of Canon City. I spotted this first of the season bird as I was walking the Canon City Riverwalk over the week-end. Harlan's are well known to be extremely skittish and the way this hawk flew gave me the impression it was a Harlan's. However it ducked into the cottonwoods south of the trail and disappeared. When I returned from my walk I searched for this hawk and found it perched in the cottonwoods about 300-400 feet away--thus my photos are limited by this distance. However, the white lores and cheeks, whitish chest, whitish underside of tail with otherwise blackish feathering are clearly seen in the top pic are distinctive for dark/intermediate-morph Harlan's.

The middle pic adds the view of the outer tail feathers that are whitish with dark middle and dark towards the terminal part of the tail, one of a number of tail variants found on Harlan's. I searched for this bird again in hopes of getting better pics but did not find it. Since many of the cottonwoods still have their leaves it could easily be perched in a tree and not visible. I did spot a rufous-morph Red-tailed Hawk in one of the cottonwoods with a lot of leaves so could not get any pics of it before it took off. SeEtta