English and Scientific names:

Harris’s Hawk (Parabuteo unicintus harrisi)

Number of individuals: 

One adult male, presumably Eastern (TX) ssp. harrisi

Locality: LOUISIANA: 

Acadia Parish

Specific Locality:

off US-90 (E. Texas Ave.), ca. 1 mi. E of Rayne (ca. 0.5 mi. E of Leroy Breaux Rd.)

Date(s) when observed:

28 December 2009

Time(s) of day when observed:  

~4:15 – 4:30 PM CST

Reporting observer and address:

Devin Bosler

Lancaster, PA 17601

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

Justin Bosler

Other observers who independently identified the bird(s)

Bill Hoffpauir (discovered bird on 2 November 2009), Paul Conover, Dave Patton, Steve Cardiff, Donna Dittmann, Van Remsen, m. ob. – last observed on 3 January 2010 (fide Thomas Trenchard et al.)

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

Clear sky with optimal afternoon sunlight.  Sun angle relatively high and backlighting/glare not a factor.

Optical equipment: 

Zeiss Victory FL 8x42, Kowa TSN 881 Angled 88mm scope w/ 20-60x optical zoom, Canon Powershot SD1100 IS digital camera (all equipment in excellent condition)

Distance to bird(s): 

within ca. 15-25 meters

Duration of observation:

~15 min.


Scrubby, early successional roadside thickets in semi-open ag. lands adjacent to fallow fields and railroad tracks. Primarily hackberry-privet scrub with scattered oaks, tallow, etc.


Behavior of bird: 

Actively hunting from a low perch (small hackberry) along roadside.  Also observed in flight when flushed from perch.  Observed flying and perching on utility lines and poles along roadway.


A large, entirely dark, long-tailed, long-legged raptor.  Uniformly dark brown upperparts and underparts with rufous upperwing coverts.  Rufous leg feathers. Long, black tail with white base and broad white terminal band.  White undertail coverts.  Facial skin, cere, and tarsi yellow.  In flight, wings long and broad.  Rapid, shallow wingbeats, with wings held in downward arc, followed by long glides.  Presumed male based on relatively small size; very little overlap in size with females.


Presumably of wild, naturally-occurring origin.  Widespread extralimital reports throughout TX in fall/winter 2009-2010 are suggestive of minor incursion north and east of normal range. Prone to disperse northward, especially in fall and winter.




Similar species:

No similar raptors occurring in N.A.  Dark morph buteos show two-toned underwings with pale or silvery remiges in flight.


Photographs or tape recordings obtained?

Yes, digiscoped photos obtained by Devin Bosler.  Yes, attached.

Previous experience with this species: 

Fairly familiar with this species from many previous sightings in s. Texas and se. AZ, plus a pair in Eddy Co. (NM) in summer 2007.

Identification aids:

National Geographic Complete Birds of N.A. (Alderfer et al. 2005), Raptors of Western North America (Wheeler 2003).

This description is written from: 

notes made during the observation, notes made after the observation, memory.

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


Yes, very positive.

Date and time: 

20 January 2010, 10:00 PM EST