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This month's quiz bird, unlike last month's, is out in the open, allowing us a good view. Granted, we cannot see the face well, but one cannot have everything! The apparent size and gross color pattern, not to mention the hooked bill that we can just barely make out, suggest a raptor. Careful scrutiny of the flight feathers reveals that there are two ages of such (older, browner feathers and younger, blacker feathers) with no obvious missing feathers, so the bird does not appear to be in active molt, thus it's an adult… or, at least, not a juvenile. Thus, we can rule out the most widespread option: Red-tailed Hawk, as a Red-tailed of this age would have, well, a red tail. Unless it's a Harlan's Hawk. Hmm.
Our bird's wings also don't look long enough to be those of a Turkey Vulture or any eagle, and there is no patch of white or whitish in the hand, so Black Vulture and Ferruginous Hawk go by the boards. Our bird's wings are also fairly pointed, with the longest primary being number 8 and with p6 being considerably shorter than p8, thus ruling out the really round-winged raptors. Looking more closely at the underparts, we can see that the chin and throat are white, the chest darkish, and the sides and flanks sport what appears to be reddish barring, but no distinct or even indistinct belly band. Okay, we can certainly rule Red-tailed Hawk out now. Broad-winged Hawk can easily match our bird's underparts, but that species usually shows fairly strong lateral throat stripes, though we might not have an angle on them. However, Broad-winged adults sport distinctly black-and-white banded tails, as do a number of other options (e. g., Gray and Red-shouldered).
The longish, somewhat pointed wings, the flight feathers being at least as dark as the upperwing coverts, the vaguely-banded tail, and the aforementioned underparts pattern really fits only one ABA-area raptor. I took this picture of a Swainson's Hawk (an adult female) at Barr Lake S.P., Adams Co., CO, on 22 April 2006.
The following people (listed by submission date beginning with the earliest) submitted correct answers for the August Bird Photo Quiz—Swainson's Hawk:
The following list shows the number of submissions for each species guessed.
The photo and answer for this quiz were supplied by Tony Leukering.