English and Scientific names:

Ferruginous Hawk, Buteo regalis


Number of individuals: 

1 light first year






Specific Locality:

Hwy 82, about 1 mile E of Johnsons Bayou



Date(s) when observed:

December 27, 2010



Time(s) of day when observed:  

9:55 AM



Reporting observer and address:

Paul E. Conover

Lafayette, LA



Other observers accompanying reporter who also identified the bird(s):

Mac Myers


Other observers who independently identified the bird(s)

Assuming this is the same bird that was present last October/November, many observers.  No others have reported seeing it on this go-around.


Light conditions (position of bird in relation to shade and to direction and amount of light):

Sunny, mid-morning light near the solstice, so sun to our SE, with bird to our SW.  Pretty good light, especially through scope. 



Optical equipment: 

Zeiss 10s, Nikon scope 20-60X, Nikon D50 with 200 mm lens



Distance to bird(s): 

Maybe 200 yards at closest, well more than that at most distant.



Duration of observation:

5-10 minutes but viewing time a little less than that, as we were driving to keep up with drift of bird.




Open marsh south of Highway 82.  Scrubby chenier with a few scattered stunted trees runs through the marsh here.



Behavior of bird: 

Soaring with other hawks, and facing into a strong SE wind and kiting.


We noted the paleness of this bird and the different morphology from the numerous of Red-tailed Hawks with our naked eyes.  We stopped to watch the bird and were able to ID as a Ferruginous.    



Large buteo with long wings that narrowed considerably beyond the secondaries. 


Underparts very white. Only pronounced darker areas were the wrist commas and wingtips. There were sparsely scattered darker markings tracing the edges of the underwing coverts.  Patagial area white.  Underside of head white, contrasting sharply with darker “cap” of crown and auriculars.  Head thus had the appearance of being ˝ dark, ˝ white.  There was the appearance of an eyeline or dark eyemask when the bird wheeled in certain angles to the sun. 


From above, the bird had a well-marked caracara-like pattern of white wingtips and tail area.  Primaries whitish except for darker fingers, contrasting with dark brown of rest of wings, including primary coverts.  Within dark brown areas, there were paler markings, including slight pale area within primary coverts, and in line along (median?) secondary coverts. Saddle looked solidly dark brown, extending as a widow’s peak onto rump in some views.  Uppertail coverts and base of tail whitish, dusky wash on tip of tail, on about distal 1/2. 


Bird soared in noticeable dihedral.




no vocalizations heard



Similar species:

On paper, young “Krider’s” Hawk very similar.  However, patagial mark is present even if faint on Krider’s.  Krider’s primary panel is pale as well, but usually (always?) is about the same color as the primary panel, giving a ˝ pale/ ˝ dark wing look, not the concentrated primary flash of a Ferruginous.  Capped look would also be odd on a Krider’s. 


Outer wings of this bird were noticeably narrower than the wings of the redtails it was soaring with. The flight posture of this bird was also visibly different from the redtails, with an almost Marsh Hawk-like dihedral at times. 


Photographs or tape recordings obtained?

Photos from a distance, but I think the shape and pattern of Ferruginous is evident. 


Previous experience with this species: 

I’ve seen a few over the years out west and in state, including one last October. 

Identification aids:


This description is written from: 

Notes committed to memory while watching bird, perusal of photos.



Are you positive of your identification? If not, explain: 




Dec 29, 2010.