Melanistic Red-tailed Hawk


Hawks are, at least for me, difficult to always identify with certainty. In addition to the juveniles having different plumage than adults, many species have a variety of color morphs. The morphs interbreed resulting in many confusing intergrades.

A melanistic red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) has recently been perching on a pole near our house (Modoc County CA). Melanin is the dark pigment found in plants and animals (think suntan). This hawk has a dark belly and chest with no visible white in these areas, including the chin. Obviously his melanin is working overtime. There is also a dark patagial margin (fold of skin in front of the main segment of the wing) on the leading edge of the underwing.

The picture of the hawk on the pole shows his dark belly and chest clearly. The photo of the hawk flying straight up is not rotated. He was flying directly upward.

Unfortunately my ISP was hacked. They had to shut down their system and now need to go to every subscriber’s home to do repair before I am back online. Who knows how long that will take – ah, the difficulties with a very rural location! So until I am operational again I need to go to a friend’s to use a computer. I apologize for the skimpy, and late, post. Hopefully this glitch will be resolved soon.

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