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Ferruginous Hawk Identification

The ‘typical’ light morph plumage of the Ferruginous Hawk is very white below with a light colored hear.  The adult wear dark leggings and all Ferruginous Hawks are feathered to their feet.  In this image of the bird taking flight by Tony Thomas, it is somewhat difficult to see the large gape and the bright yellow cere.  Ferruginous Hawks are found only in the western United State and Canada, but some winter just south of the U.S. border on the remaining large prairie dog towns near Janos, Mexico.

In image #2, by Bonnie Long, when viewed from the back, the rusty-colored shoulder patches, pale head, and  tail that is whitish near the base and rusty near the tip, make this bird easy to identify.

Image #3, by Tony Thomas, shows a Ferrug taking flight. Although it is difficult to pick up the rusty colored shoulder patches, the whitish tail with the dark tip identifies this as a Ferruginous Hawk.

Of course, Ferruginous Hawks, like all other buteos, come in three distinct color morphs that I like to call “vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate”.  Image #4, by Tony Thomas, shows an all dark buteo.   This bird can be identified as a Ferruginous based on the tail color which is nearly white throughout and the large gape that extends t0 below the eye.

Sometimes, you just get lucky! These two Ferruginous Hawks are almost certainly a mated pair, as it would be very unusual for either to tolerate anyone other than their mate in such close proximity. In this image by Bonnie Long, you can easily see the size difference between the smaller male and larger female.

Many thanks to Tony Thomas and Bonnie Long for the use of their images.

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