Date: 11/29/17 10:16 am
From: Tim Helentjaris <tnhelentjaris...>
Subject: [AZNMbirds] Montosa Canyon - Santa Cruz county
Early morning birding here and you had to work hard for your birds. Dipped on a couple of targets I was looking for. Did find CRISSAL THRASHER in the basin just a ways in on the Elephant Hill trail, which seems to be a reliable location for them. I also heard BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHER a ways down the culvert trail, in a little south and then east as well as later closer to the paved crossing. Otherwise, just the usual suspects for this area.

I just wanted to call attention to one interesting bird. It appeared to be a RED-TAILED HAWK by almost every feature, location and habitat, appearance, voice, and plumage with red tail, dark brown hood about the head, patagial marks, etc. Except when it was sitting on the cliffs and staring down at you, it was very clean white below without a belly band (not too unusual), but its legs were densely feathered all the way down and with a distinct rufous cast, very much like a Ferruginous Hawk. Unfortunately I didn’t have my scope with me to study it a little more closely and get a photo, but I suspect this hawk is resident and will hang around if anyone else wants to get down there and take a look. Perhaps I’m making too much of this ventral appearance, after all there is extraordinary variation within this species, but at the same time there is precedent for a RtHa X FeHa hybrid? Not ready to call this one but its appearance is interesting, particularly after spending last week up in the Santa Cruz Flats and looking at a very large number of RtHa’s of many different plumages.

Tim Helentjaris
Tucson, AZ

“Adventure is just bad planning.”
- Roald Amundsen, Arctic explorer

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