Babies On The Golf Course at Santa Rita: Can You Identify Them?

By
Mortgage and Lending with SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) NMLS 223495

Juvenile hawks roosting in a pine tree at Santa Rita Golf Course, near Tucson, AZ

Donte' Ormsby and I played 18 holes of golf yesterday at the Santa Rita Golf Course south of Tucson, AZ.  We had intended to play only nine holes, but you know how that goes.

These two young hawks were roosting in a pine tree on the 18th hole.  I have a few birding books, but try as I might, I haven't been able to identify them. 

I got a view of the back of the hawk when one flew into a sycamore tree.  The tail is barred, and it's underside has the same creamy yellow that you see on the breast.

Active Rain has become my favorite resource for stuff I can't figure out.  Can one of you identify them? 

 

Darlene Smyth, Tucson Audubon field leaderEDIT:  Here's an email from one of our local Audubon Society gurus, Darlene Smyth, with the answer.  Darlene has birded extensively in North, Central and South America.

Hi Mike,
 
What wonderful photos!  However, it is no wonder you all were having a hard time deciding upon an identification for these Red-tailed Hawks There are 13 accepted races for this species and there are several color morphs (light, intermediate, and dark) for many of the races.  One region of North America can have several resident (breeding) races and, as in the case of SE AZ, several more winter here.  The various races of this bird will also interbreed so one can have the characteristics of two races in one single bird.  This is always a very difficult species to pin down as to race and very few books even begin to show all the variations of Red-tailed Hawks.
 
These birds would be of the light morph "Western" race.  Young birds have light colored irises, a light colored cere, and have not yet molted into a rufous red tail.  General characteristics that make this a Red-tailed Hawk:  "Belly" band of dark streaks (not all races have this), large size, from the rear, the markings on the "shoulders" (scapulars) of the bird form a lighter colored V when viewed from the rear.  (Diagnostic for this species in flight is the dark leading edge of the wing seen from below).  Young birds have longer tails than adults, have grayish-brown tails barred with black, and have pale irises.  Pages upon pages have been written to describe this species, the various races, the various color morphs, and the juvenile traits of the various races.   A great book for western raptors is:  Raptors of Western North America by Brian K. Wheeler 2003...Princeton press).
 
I would like to invite all of you to come along on Tucson Audubon Society field trips.  We can not promise great hawks on each trip, but we usually manage to find interesting birds. http://www.tucsonaudubon.org/fieldtrips/index.htm
 
Cheers,
 
Darlene

EDIT 2:  Here are a couple of other shots of the juvenile hawks.  The box above the bird is the nest.

Juvenile Red Tailed Hawk.  The box is the nest.

Looking at you

 

 

 

 ___________________

I'm Mike in Tucson, your preferred Tucson, AZ Mortgage lender.
Mike Jones (Tucson Mortgage Company, LLC): Loan Officer in Tucson, Pima County, Arizona
Call me
if I can help you with a purchase or refi mortgage;
(520) 349-9090

Photos copyright Mike in Tucson, (except photo of Darlene Smyth is courtesy of the Tucson Audubon Society.)

Comments (18)

Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

I'm going with Swainson's Hawk.


Jun 28, 2009 02:25 AM
Debe Maxwell, CRS
www.iCharlotteHomes.com | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
The right Charlotte REALTOR!

I can't identify them, Mike but, love the first photo--their coloring is beautiful!

 

Debe in Charlotte
Jun 28, 2009 03:01 AM
Sharon Paxson
Compass - Newport Beach, CA
Newport Beach Real Estate

Mike - I am not sure what type they are either, however they are beautiful none the less.

Jun 28, 2009 03:52 AM
Chip Jefferson
Gibbs Realty and Auction Company - Columbia, SC

how cool of a pic on the course. They didnt look like they were bother what so ever. I hope you had a great day playing!

Jun 28, 2009 05:41 AM
Matt Listro
National Credit Fixers - Matt Listro - Vernon, CT
Your Credit Repair Expert

Hi Mike: I can identify them.  The one on the left is lunch and the one on the right is dinner!

Meow

:)

Jun 28, 2009 08:57 AM
Mike Jones
SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) - Tucson, AZ
Mike Jones NMLS 223495

Matt,

Hiss, hiss...  :)

Laura,

We sure did, and the hawks capped a wonderful morning.

Sharon,

Thanks for stopping by!

Lenn,

That's what the owner of our local Wild Birds Unlimited store said, too, but he referred me to Darlene Smyth, whose definitive email I'll edit into the post in a moment. Thanks for being the first to comment.

Mike in Tucson

Jun 28, 2009 09:55 AM
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

Mike - I suspected they were hawks of one kind or another.  They are quite a bit larger than what I'm use to seeing however.  But, maybe my hawks would appear larger if they were that close:-)  Great pictures.

Jun 28, 2009 12:20 PM
Carol Smith
Casmi Photography - Mebane, NC

Mike - I'm thinking they are Cooper's Hawks.  They certainly don't look like red-tails.

Check here:  Wiki Cooper's Hawks

Jun 28, 2009 12:42 PM
Terry & Bonnie Westbrook
Westbrook Realty Broker-Owner - Grand Rapids, MI
Westbrook Realty - Grand Rapids Forest Hills MI Re

Not like any red tailed hawk from our area. I checked our bird books and would not have come up with the right answer.

Jun 28, 2009 01:24 PM
Mike Jones
SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) - Tucson, AZ
Mike Jones NMLS 223495

Terry,

That's what happened to me.  Thanks for stopping by.

Carol,

They're not the coloration of the Red Tailed Hawks I'm used to from my college days in Columbia, SC, but if you read Ms. Smyth's entire comment, it does make sense.  They're larger and heavier than Cooper's Hawks, and the shape of the body is different.

Myrl,

They were big.  I'll edit in another photo or two.

Mike in Tucson

Jun 28, 2009 01:41 PM
Debe Maxwell, CRS
www.iCharlotteHomes.com | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
The right Charlotte REALTOR!

Hey Mike!  How cool is that the you were emailed your answer!  Interesting explanation too!

Have a great week...

Jun 28, 2009 03:10 PM
Mike Jones
SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) - Tucson, AZ
Mike Jones NMLS 223495

Thanks, Debe! 

You, too.  Much success!

Mike in Tucson

Jun 28, 2009 03:20 PM
Carol Smith
Casmi Photography - Mebane, NC

I saw her comment after I had posted.  Her explanation and descriptions make total sense, but as you said ... they don't look like the typical red tailed hawks I've ever seen.  But at least I learned something new!

Jun 28, 2009 04:51 PM
Don Rogers
Keller Williams Realty Chesterfield - O'Fallon, MO
Realtor, Broker, CDPE, GRI, OnullFallon MO & St Charles County MO homes

Mike,

These are some very nice photos and I would have never thought that they were Red Tailed Hawks.  Thanks for the photos and the info.

Jun 28, 2009 11:30 PM
Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

We have an abundance of Red Tails here.  I wouldn't have believed that they, the Red Tails, are indigenous to the entire U.S. 

Thanks for the wild life lesson.

Jun 28, 2009 11:33 PM
Mike Jones
SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) - Tucson, AZ
Mike Jones NMLS 223495

Lenn,

I'll be at this particular golf course tomorrow morning again, and I'm hoping to see these two, and maybe the parents.  I'd like to photograph the adults.  Thanks for coming back.

Don,

They are pretty cool looking, though, aren't they?!

Carol,

Me, too.  Thanks for stopping back by!

Mike in Tucson

Jun 29, 2009 12:19 AM
Dale Baker
Baker Energy Audits and Commercial Properties Inspections - Claremont, NH
New Hampshire Relocation Real Estate Information

Howdy there Mike

Did you get to see them again, at the golf course?

God Bless America

Jul 04, 2009 10:49 AM
Mike Jones
SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) - Tucson, AZ
Mike Jones NMLS 223495

Dale,

Not yet, but I'll be there Tuesday morning with a 5:30 a.m. tee time.  Maybe then.

Mike in Tucson

Jul 04, 2009 11:00 AM