Have you ever seen someone asking for an id from a single blurry image they took in the field? This is a tribute to Vic Berardi who came up with idea of blurring perfectly focused images as an id exercise, and of course, Richard Crossley, who pioneered composite images like this. I'll post all of the answers, along with clear, full-sized images of the birds tomorrow.
And here is the update with answers as promised.
1. Juvenile light morph Rough-legged Hawk. 2. Juvenile Golden Eagle. 3. Juvenile Cooper's Hawk. 4. Osprey. 5. Adult Bald Eagle. 6. Adult Broad-winged Hawk. 7. Adult male American Kestrel. 8. Adult male light morph Rough-legged Hawk. 9. Juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk. 10. Adult Red-shouldered Hawk. 11. Adult Peregrine Falcon. 12. Adult Red-tailed Hawk.
I had a fantastic day birding throughout the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge in Western New York with my good friend, Nathan Johnson. A quick stop at the Batavia Wastewater Treatment Plant produced an Eared Grebe, scores of Ruddy Ducks, Northern Shovelers, and numerous other waterfowl. Iroquois produced a juvenile Rough-legged Hawk, Northern Harriers, American Kestrel, Red-tailed Hawks, a Common Raven, and late-night Short-eared Owl. Here are a few pics I managed to grab. May the birds be with you.
I went out on the 27th with the sole intention of photographing raptors, and had a fantastic encounter at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo NY. I (likely) re-found a beautiful abieticola subspecies Red-tailed Hawk that I had previously documented on 31JAN2014. What in the world is "abieticola" one might ask? Well, I believe the word means, "of the firs." This would describe the arctic-like Canadian breeding grounds of this unofficial subspecies. Here on the east coast of the US, we typically only see borealis subspecies Red-tailed Hawks, and unlike the Western Calurus subspecies, they only come in one color morph. All of our Red-tailed Hawks look relatively the same. While not an official subspecies yet, we are sometimes lucky enough to get these beautifully marked abieticola Hawks that will migrate south in the winter in order to find better hunting grounds. In a nutshell, these abieticola are distinguished from borealis by having a much darker head/dorsal, rufous streaking in the bib, dark-bold belly bands with herringbone patterned feathers, dark bleeding patagials, and very bold underwing barring. This abieticola is out of range and date for our area. Jerry Liguori has indicated to me that some may have expanded their range, or like mine, might just be found out of the normal range. He has posted a much more informative explanation of this proposed subspecies in the past, and if you would like to learn more about identifying abieticola for this upcoming winter season, please click here. Ebird even allows for abieticola notation in your listings, and posted a wonderful article about this beautiful subspecies. To learn more about ebirding your abieticola finds, please click here. Last, but certainly not least, a fantastic birder from Canada named Jon Ruddy has dedicated an entire website to abieticola. He has worked tirelessly with Jerry Liguori to detail and document this proposed subspecies. You can even find pictures of what I believe are the same bird below in the gallery of his website from last year. If you believe you have documented an abieticola subspecies Red-tailed Hawk, please submit your pictures to Jon for archival purposes by clicking here to reach his website. I would also just love to see and help you determine if you have an abieticola as well. Feel free to send me any and all pics of abieticolas you believe you may have. With enough documentation and research, this may become an official subspecies someday.
Stopped into Forest Lawn Cemetery yesterday evening with my friend, Nathan Johnson. We cleaned house. I heard a murder of Crows mobbing in the distance as I was photographing passerines, and headed into a full sprint half way across the cemetery. I was rewarded with wonderful looks at a Great Horned Owl. I was also alerted to the presence of 2 Cooper's Hawks by a few noisey Bluejays. I love all birds, but you just can't beat the raptors. I can't wait to get a decent picture of a Blue-headed Vireo one of these days though.
I stopped into Forest Lawn Cemetery for about an hour today after work with my buddy, Nathan. We scored quite a few beautiful migrants. Birds seen and not pictured include Nashville Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, and Red-breasted Nuthatch.
Stopped into Batavia with my friend Alec Humann today to look for a Buff-breasted Sandpiper found by Celeste the previous day. We located at least three of them, along with half a dozen Golden Plovers. We also checked out the Water Treatment Plant for Eared Grebe and picked both of them up as well as 2 beautiful Baird's Sandpipers. Not much was close for photographs, but those are some great birds.
A Heavily Photoshopped RTHA.
Riley LaMarsh requested a wallpaper version of this juvenile Red-tailed hawk edit I made. I think if you right click the image, and choose, "open image in new tab," it will give you a large file of the original. Cheers.
Forest Lawn Cemetery Borealis.
I finally purchased a decent used lens... (THANK YOU David Crow!). I've neglected to post a bunch of recent photo sessions, but really loved the juvenile and transitional plumage Red-tailed Hawks I found at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, NY this morning. A nice bicycle ride around the grounds allowed me to hear the food begging calls of the juvenile. The flight photo of the adult-like bird is an interesting study of transitional plumage. Note that at least 7 primary flight feathers have a dark terminal band while the secondaries and some primaries lack this feature. The dark terminal band is a feature of adult RTHA flight feathers, while the rest are still juvenile. Another note is the light eyes in contrast to a seemingly red tail. It takes anywhere from 2-3 years for most RTHA to gain the dark brown eyes of adults. The last and final note on this transitional plumage is the juvenile tail feather just barely visible below the red adult ones. Note the light coloration and dark banding extending the length of the feather. I watched the recent fledgling (indicated by the buff colored bib) practice hunting for a while, and finally fly to mother to beg for food. What a great day. CHeck out this article by Jerry Liguori on bib coloration: Hawkwatch International
Came across this beautiful Snowy Owl on Posson Road near the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge with my friend, Nathan Johnson today. What a beauty.
I stopped out to Chestnut Ridge's Eternal Flame area yesterday to see if I could help my good friend Nathan Johnson track down his lifer Hooded Warbler. The mission turned out to be one of the most excellent birding adventures I've had in a long time. We found our Hooded Warbler within minutes of arriving, and despite the poor lighting for pictures, the bird gave us an excellent show. We also encountered a lovely Hermit Thrush at the same location right near the start of the trail towards the Eternal Flame. With time to kill, we headed down to see if the Louisiana Waterthrush was still in the area. While the Waterthrush was not found anywhere near the normal creek, there were multiple Acadian Flycatchers calling and sallying in the area. The next thing we heard was the familiar scream of a Broad-winged Hawk. We ran down the gully in time to witness two juvenile Broad-winged Hawks calling back and forth to each other and taking small flights from tree to tree. Just awesome! We decided we had just enough time to see the eternal Flame, and headed down from there. We encountered numerous Scarlet Tanagers singing high in the trees, and a few Wood Thrush on the way down to the creek. While hiking up the creek, my phone rang, and the WInter Wren ringtone immediately prompted a nearby Winter Wren to fly in like a bat out of hell and start singing like crazy. It was one of the most beautiful things I've heard because of the natural acoustics of the ravine, and of course, the amazing song of the Winter Wren (that's why it's my ringtone). So just to add awesome-sauce on our meal of pure fantastic, a Louisiana Waterthrush came in out of nowhere and kind of danced around to the song of the Winter Wren. It just started twerking and giving chip notes for no reason other than to let us know we made the right decision to come down to the flame. The flame was lit when we arrived. We enjoyed the scene and ended up climbing the roots up to the ground level from there. What a day! I've included some various shots from Staten Island, Times Beach Nature Preserve, and other such randoms.