Dark morph Red-tailed Hawk

November 25, 2021  •  3 Comments

I was on Bow Edison Road in the Skagit Valley on Tuesday when I saw this Red-tailed Hawk. It is the most unusual coloration I have ever seen. The question is: is this a Harlan's, or something else.   Any help in identifying this unusual Red-tail would be appreciated. 


Nature by Nancy
Thanks Bob and Lynn! Bob, melanistic is a new term for me. You could be right!
We saw the same hawk, also on Tuesday (at around 1:20pm) on Bow-Edison Rd., perched on a sign. We were able to circle back and look again - what a beauty! I've never seen a dark morph hawk of any species so close-up. The bird didn't fly so I didn't see the tail, and unfortunately I didn't get a photo. I'm glad you did - these are terrific images. Another hawk, a Red-tailed or Rough-legged with two wing tags, was perched in a tree on the same stretch of road. I'm waiting to hear back from someone about when and where it was tagged. Thanks for your post.
Bob Kothenbeutel(non-registered)
I saw and photographed this hawk (I believe the same one) in the same area last year. At first I thought it was a dark rough-legged but it had no feathers on its legs. There were no light spots on the wing shields so I thought probably not Harlan's. I was left with melanistic red-tailed hawk as the most likely ID. Curious to hear others thoughts.
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