• Northern Red-tailed Hawk

    Common NameNorthern Red-tailed Hawk
    Scientific NameButeo jamaicensis abieticola
    Type of ReportRare Species
    Date of Observation02/10/2017
    • Other Documentation of Observation
    • Other Documentation of Observation
    • Other Documentation of Observation
    • Other Documentation of Observation
    Number Observed1
    Reporting Observer's NameMichael Foster
    Mailing Address162 Breezy Hill Rd
    Springfield, VT 05156
    United States
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    EmailEmail hidden; Javascript is required.
    Date Completed02/17/2017
    Latitude of Observation43.2849467
    Longitude of Observation-72.4108393
    Place NameMichael Foster
    Vermont eBird Checklist URLebird.org
    Time of Day02:05 PM
    Length of Time Observed5 minutes
    Maximum Estimated Distance from Bird (in feet)1 mile as it flew away
    Minimum Estimated Distance from Bird (in feet)400
    Noteworthy Weather Conditions

    Clear and cold, about 10 degrees F

    Optical Equipment Used for Observation

    All observed through the lens of my camera which has a 560mm telephoto as there was no time to both take photos and observe through binoculars.

    Observer’s Previous Acquaintance With This or Similar Species

    I have seen 2 other Abieticola this winter that were both confirmed by Jerry Liguori, who wrote a book on Hawk ID. I submitted these pics of this bird to the folks on the FB Hawk ID group, and all there confirmed this was Abieticola.

    I certify that that attachments included with this report were captured during this observation event​​.
    Description of Habitat

    Blue jays. Sounded like a lot, but they were actively harassing the hawk, so it could have been only a few that sounded like a lot.

    Behaviors Observed

    Flew into woods where it was harassed by Blue Jays, then flew out of the woods and over the CT river

    Description of Vocalizations


    Verbal Narrative & Description of Observation

    I was driving south on Rt 5 when I saw this bird fly into the wood right ahead of me. I had a good enough look by naked eye to be suspicious it was a Northern. I stopped the truck and got out with my camera and binocs. I was more intent on photographing the bird and was setting my camera to be able to get some flight shots. While I was doing this there were a bunch of blue jays making a racket in the woods very near where the hawk had flown into the woods and soon the hawk flew out. It came out just at tree top level and flew straight east and over the CT river.

    Relative Size & Shape

    Unquestionably a buteo, and more specifically a red tailed hawk. I could tell through the camera that the bird had that distinctive belly band, but could not confirm that it was Abieticola until I processed the pictures.


    Very dark head with streaks dribbling out through the neck onto the chest which is very characteristic of Northerns.

    Feet & Bill

    Nothing different here to ID sub-species

    Upper Back

    not seen

    Lower Back & Rump

    not seen


    Broad and long typical of buteo, and Red-Tailed in particular.

    Breast, Belly, Flanks, Under Tail Coverts

    This is where the greatest distinction is in this sub-species and this bird showed these features well. A very dark belly band with blobby/dripping dark patches. Upper breast has the orangish/buffy color which is also specific to Abieticola


    Squared off short tail feathers with just a hint of red color from underneath.

    IMPORTANT: What similar species were eliminated when making the identification and how was this bird different?

    Only other bird similar is the Borealis sub-species. (I had just seen and reported on eBird a Borealis not 3 minutes before seeing this bird. There was no doubt about the Borealis and I submitted good photos of the Borealis on the same checklist) This bird had the differences noted above which, along with the help of the experts on the FB page Hawk ID, makes me confident this bird was an Abieticola

    This report was written from notes taken:Written from Memory

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