Yesterday, 10 November 2020, Luke caught this stunning juvenile near Lawrence, Kansas (nice work Luke!). Unfortunately, we are not putting out telemetry units on juveniles, but Luke still took the necessary samples, and put a color band on the bird. This bird is now carrying a blue 1W on its left leg, so keep an eye out for it!
We tentatively identify this individual as the subspecies kriderii, given the overall paleness of the bird as well as the rusty tones throughout the body plumage, especially the primary coverts. We also expect a juvenile harlani to lack these warm tones and have more globular streaking in the belly, patagials, etc. The regularity of the barring in the tail, and the fineness in the wings, also supports kriderii. Juvenile harlani and kriderii can be quite difficult to distinguish, which is why this bird carrying a color band is so exciting. Even more, it’s important to note that these two subspecies come into contact, so the characteristics of some individuals may blend together and we may be ‘splitting hairs’ if we try to name it one or the other. If we can resight this bird in its definitive plumage, we’ll have a direct comparison between juvenile and adult plumage, which will strengthen our ability to identify it. We also now have the ability to genetically assess where this individual may group with others, further strengthening our understanding of how to name these odd plumages.
We need your help to resight our color banded birds! We hope to put out a large number of color bands this winter. The coming breeding season, we hope our efforts pay off and we get some breeding locations from relighting color bands at nest sites. Please pay attention to your local Red-tailed Hawks this summer, and see if you can find a color band! If you do, take a photo and let us know!