Date: 12/31/20 3:34 pm
From: <phawk254...>
Subject: [MASSBIRD] Possible Intermediate Dark Morph Rough-legged Hawk Plum Island 12.30.20
Wednesday Julie and I saw what appeared to be a dark morph Rough-legged Hawk sitting on bushes on the far end of Cross Farm Hill. Through a 60x scope when perched it appeared to be a uniformly brownish bird with a white patch on the lores and forehead as well as a pale spot on the rear crown. (Similar to Plate 420 in Brian Wheeler's Raptors of Eastern North America, 2003, but an overall lighter brown coloration on the body.) At one point it roused and briefly raised its wings to rebalance itself. In that very brief moment the left underwing was visible through the scope. Unlike the typical dark morph the wing lining appeared tawny with a sharply contrasting blackish carpal patch. The breast did not appear to have any light or pale brown patches but was brown consistent with the solid belly color.
The head color did not resemble the "Devonshire cream" of some light morph juveniles. The head, throat, upper breast and neck appeared uniformly brown, except for the light patch on the upper face as best as I could discern.
This could be the uncommon "intermediate dark morph" briefly touched on by several guides. If anyone has photographed this bird or is able to going forward, could you please contact me regarding an opportunity to look at and evaluate the photos. I've seen only one or two "intermediate dark morph" birds ever, and none with the white lores and forehead seen on this bird. (Roughlegs are highly variable.)


Paul M. Roberts
Medford, MA
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