Whipple Flats produced a young red-shouldered hawk. I know, it doesn't look identifiable, but there are obvious clues that might not immediately present themselves unless you've been seasoned by experience. The two species in contention for this buteo ID are red-shouldered and red-tailed. First, it's sitting on a power line, something most redtails are too large to do comfortably. The red-shoulder's small feet and short toes fit better than a redtail's on such a small-gauge perch. Second, those blobby, heavy streaks all down the front of its breast are typical of a young red-shoulder. A redtail, even a young one, usually has a clear white or buff upper breast, with finer streaking across the middle of the belly. Third, it's got a small, fine bill. Fourth, the tail seems short and the bird overall compact and cobby. A redtail would look more elongated and much more massive. And it wouldn't be sitting on a wire! For those who are wondering, the call between broad-winged hawk and red-shouldered is much closer and more difficult to make. For the purposes of this ID, we are safe in assuming that all the broad-wings are in Costa Rica by January. Red-shoulders stick around, hence their folk name, "winter hawk."
We didn't have to give our second raptor of the day a second look, other than to ogle it. An adult bald eagle beats its way up the Muskingum. Fantastic. I love the impossibly long arms of the sycamore in the foreground. And I still can't take an eagle sighting for granted, no matter how much more frequent they are.