Date: 4/15/18 2:29 am
From: 'Jeff Schultz' via Birders <birders...>
Subject: Re: [birders] Dark Morph Swainson’s Hawk. Lenawee County
Greetings,

First of all, no, I wasn’t offended or put off by any means with the questions geared to my sighting yesterday. I didn’t take it as naysaying.

Thank you for the questions and thank you to those, Like Allan Ryff, who patted me in the back about my hawk ID skills. I always appreciate an ego boost :-)

I have been out of the hawk watching game a bit, but have spent over 30 years at hawk watch sites here in the states, both in the east and west.

I am pretty familiar with both Swainson’s and Rough-legged Hawks, seeing numerous of each. I have seen and observed many, many thousands of Swainson’s on migration in Costa Rica and Panamá

I’ve also been blessed and fortunate to see many Swainson’s here in Michigan. Most of which were at the the hawk watch at Lake Erie Metropark. Surprisingly, we got several dark morph individuals at that site in my long tenure there.

I probably should have given details about my bird yesterday, but seeing I was working and my truck is “lo-jacked” and the company can see where I am stopped, for how long, etc...I figured since I was on their time and dime and I had lots of deliveries to do, I better not be lagging behind schedule too long.

I already was stopped “too” long watching the bird as it perched several minutes and as it took flight when it appeared to go after something in the field.

The bird apparently missed it’s target and flew around a bit, hovering over a couple locations looking for prey before flying off

I really won’t go into a full discourse on Swainson’s vs Rough-legged ID. There are great resources online that do just that.

I have a short attention span and want to keep this email somewhat short. Instead, I’ll give small notes to what the bird looked like, which led to my ID.

When I first saw the bird (perched on the phone pole) as I was approaching it, I first thought that it might be a Peregrine Falcon, due to it’s somewhat thin and unbulky profile. As I came a bit closer, I realized it was not a falcon, but a buteo and knew exactly what it was.

I stopped my truck, as not to flush the bird and in typical fashion, grabbed my bins. I always keep a pair with me. I probably should start carrying one of my cameras as well...

The Bird was darkish overall, with rufous and a little barring in the belly with a darkish chest. Throat was white

When perched, wingtips reached past the tip of the tail. The bird‘s bright, yellow, unfeathered legs were pretty obvious in the binoculars.

As Elliott mentioned, dark morph Swainson’s have pale under tail coverts. Which was seen when the bird was perched as well as in flight. As with many things in life, there are exceptions, there are individuals who break this rule and have darkish under tail coverts, but these are typically on the darkest extremes of this color morph.

Hope this helps a bit. Maybe confusing things more? As a veteran hawk watcher and seeing literally hundreds of thousands of raptors, I take many things for granted when I one, but the thrill is always exciting. Something I never get tired of.



Sent from my iPhone

> On Apr 14, 2018, at 10:39 PM, 'Suzanne (Moses/Vedder) Mason' via Birders <birders...> wrote:
>
> I didn't take questions as critical or offensive, just inquisitive. I'm no expert at all, but I do have experience with Swainson's as I've birded sw AZ many years now. My parents live in Sierra Vista. I commented on Jeff's sighting because I thought it coincidence that I saw a raptor whose jizz made me quickly think Swainsons this week. I've not seen one in MI and would not expect it here. I've seen plenty of different morph Roughies here and it did not seem to be a Roughie. I will never know, lol!
>
> Thanks for the input and questions! It makes us all better birders.
>
> Suzanne
>
>
> Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android
>
> On Sat, Apr 14, 2018 at 9:22 PM, Juliet Berger
> <juliet.berger...> wrote:
> Thanks, Jeff, for reporting this sighting, and Elliott for asking the questions.
> I, too, would love to hear about the details of the bird, to learn about making the differential ID myself, should I ever see a Swainson's.
> Maybe Jeff will indulge us!
> We see "many" Dark-morph Roughies in Washtenaw. I saw at least two different plumaged birds just this winter.
> I would have a tough time with this ID, so I'd like to learn.
> Thanks, Birders!!
> Juliet Berger
>
> On Sat, Apr 14, 2018 at 9:07 PM, Elliot Nelson <elliotkarlnelson...> wrote:
> My apologies if my post sounded doubtful or argumentative as that was not my intention. I’ve always wondered what the key factors were to ID a dark morph Swainsons, and was hoping to learn more on how to do so. From what I hear Jeff has a ton of experience and Jeff was obviously using his vast experience, I just wasn’t aware of it. But I’d still love to know what features he was able to see to make that call so I could learn to look for those myself to better my own ID skills.
> Thanks and again apologies if I came off as offensive.
> Elliot
>
> On Sat, Apr 14, 2018 at 8:24 AM 'Jeff Schultz' via Birders <birders...> wrote:
> Greetings Birders,
>
> About 15 minutes ago, I had an adult, dark morph Swainson’s Hawk, perched in the rain on a telephone pole on Paragon Rd and Wisner Hwy.
>
> The bird flushed after a couple of minutes, before flying over the field to the east, where it hovered in two differed spots and made a pass at something on the ground ground before continued its flight east.
>
> I was figuring/hoping the strong South/Southwest the other day might have brought in some goodies for the weekend.
>
> Saludos,
>
> Jeff Schultz
>
> Sent from my iPhone
>
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> Elliot Nelson
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> <elliotkarlnelson...>
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