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This month's quiz bird was obviously a raptor, and not some run-of-the-mill raptor, but one sporting an interesting array of field marks. The combination of all-dark head, white chest, dark belly, and entirely pale tail (at least from underneath) is not found in many ABA-area raptors. Certainly none of our eagles, kites, accipiters, and falcons exhibit such features, so we'll have to look among the buteos, a group that causes no end of confusion for many birders. The relatively broad-based wings also point in that direction.
However, the above combo of field marks eliminates most of our buteo options. Most have banded tails, no plumage of Ferruginous Hawk combines a white chest with dark belly, and Rough-legged Hawk would show contrasting black wrist patches. That leaves us with only White-tailed Hawk and the Harlan's form of Red-tailed Hawk. Our bird's fairly pointed wings certainly suggest White-tailed (which can look quite Swainson's Hawk-like in shape, particularly juveniles) and the lack of a contrastingly dark carpal bar provides us enough information to eliminate Harlan's Hawk. Yes, the bird looks nothing like an adult White-tailed Hawk, but that's because our bird is a juvenile, an age at which appearances are quite different from their parents, as is true in most buteos. However, unlike other buteos with only one color morph of adult plumage, there is something of an array of juvenile plumages in the species, but with most individuals being fairly similar to our quiz bird.
Chris Wood took this picture of a dark-morph juvenile White-tailed Hawk northeast of McAllen, TX, in February 2007.
The following people (listed by submission date beginning with the earliest) submitted correct answers for the March Bird Photo Quiz—White-tailed Hawk:
The following list shows the number of submissions for each species guessed.
This answer was written by Tony Leukering. The photo was supplied by Chris Wood.