Date: 11/28/17 1:47 pm From: ROBERT RIGHTER <rorighter...> Subject: [cobirds] "Harlan's" Red-tailed Hawk, Cherry Creek Res, (Arapahoe Co)
On the westside of the reservoir, near the rowing shack, an, all black buteo, (not showing any brown tones to the body) was flying back and forth close to the water. When the hawk banked the upper tail was clearly white, washed with some black smudging along the outer upper tail. Also in flight the white under wing feathers, dramatically contrasted with the rest of the black body. In short I was fortunate to have experience a field guide view of a "Harlan’s” Hawk, now a distinctive race to the Red-tailed Hawk.
The Harlan’s Hawk was discovered by Audubon near St. Francisville, Louisiana sometime close to 1831. He thought the hawk was a new species and initially named it the "Black Warrior” in honor of his friend Richard Harlan. Audubon was very excited about his new find and in his letter to Harlan he described the hawk’s distinctive features, but finished the letter with "I’ll skin it soon.” !!
Richard Harlan was a close friend to Audubon. He helped finance several of Audubon’s expeditions as well as purchasing the excess specimens from the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Science from John Kirk Townsend’s western expedition. Many of those purchased specimens turned out to be new species, which Audubon then used as models for his magnificent Birds of America.