Tucson By Choice!: Babies On The Golf Course at Santa Rita: Can You Identify Them?

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

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

 

 

 

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Mike Jones (Tucson Mortgage Company, LLC): Loan Officer in Tucson, Pima County, Arizona
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Photos copyright Mike in Tucson, (except photo of Darlene Smyth is courtesy of the Tucson Audubon Society.)

Comment balloon 18 commentsMike Jones • June 28 2009 09:06AM

Comments

I'm going with Swainson's Hawk.


Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) about 10 years ago

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

 

Debe in Charlotte
Posted by Debe Maxwell, CRS, Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods (www.iCharlotteHomes.com | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310) about 10 years ago

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

Posted by Sharon Paxson, Newport Beach Real Estate (Compass) about 10 years ago

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!

Posted by Chip Jefferson (Gibbs Realty and Auction Company) about 10 years ago

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

Meow

:)

Posted by Matt Listro, Your Credit Repair Expert (National Credit Fixers - Matt Listro) about 10 years ago

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

Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) about 10 years ago

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.

Posted by Myrl Jeffcoat, Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent (GreatWest Realty) about 10 years ago

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

Check here:  Wiki Cooper's Hawks

Posted by Carol Smith (Casmi Photography) about 10 years ago

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

Posted by Terry & Bonnie Westbrook, Westbrook Realty - Grand Rapids Forest Hills MI Re (Westbrook Realty Broker-Owner) about 10 years ago

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

Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) about 10 years ago

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

Have a great week...

Posted by Debe Maxwell, CRS, Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods (www.iCharlotteHomes.com | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310) about 10 years ago

Thanks, Debe! 

You, too.  Much success!

Mike in Tucson

Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) about 10 years ago

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!

Posted by Carol Smith (Casmi Photography) about 10 years ago

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.

Posted by Don Rogers, Realtor, Broker, CDPE, GRI, OnullFallon MO & St Charles County MO homes (Keller Williams Realty Chesterfield) about 10 years ago

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.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) about 10 years ago

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

Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) about 10 years ago

Howdy there Mike

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

God Bless America

Posted by Dale Baker, New Hampshire Relocation Real Estate Information (Baker Energy Audits and Commercial Properties Inspections) about 10 years ago

Dale,

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

Mike in Tucson

Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) about 10 years ago

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