English and Scientific names:

White-tailed Hawk

Number of individuals: 


1 bird in second year plumage





Specific Locality:

Ca. 5 miles W of Johnsonís Bayou, in the area of the landfill.The bird was about 100 yards off the highway on the S side of the road on a fencepost.

Date(s) when observed:


Time(s) of day when observed:  

10:00 AM

Reporting observer and address:

Paul Conover

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

I called James Beck, who arrived at about 10:10 with John Herbert, and Ronnie Spears.

Other observers who independently identified the bird(s)


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

Excellent lighting. Clear sky, sun was at a favorable angle to the horizon and the bird.

Optical equipment: 

zeiss 10s, nikon d50 w/200 mm lens, sony camcorder.

Distance to bird(s): 

ca. 100-150 yards.

Duration of observation:

30 minutes


Roadside pasture surrounded with barbed wire fence. Pasture adjacent to landfill.

Behavior of bird: 

Bird was perched on a fencepost at first. I noticed it as I drove past and came back to photograph it. The bird spent a lot of time preening.The morning had been foggy, and a trace of the fog was lingering.The bird was probably damp from the fog.After preening for a while, the bird flew to a tree behind the fence.A few minutes later, it made a dive for prey behind the tree, then flew back to the tree. We watched the bird from the highway.


A large dark hawk with a white blaze down the chest.


Head dark, appeared hooded.Mantle dark brown.Pale bases to nape feathers visible when neck was stretched, but seemed dark when neck was compressed. Wings dark, but pale brown bases of tertials visible through scope. Chestnut of lesser coverts visible as a slash on mantle/wing juncture.


Underparts with bright white ground color.Sides of neck dark brown, extending down to vest of dark brown barring or mottling.Central throat and upper breast clear white to top of vest, pale extending thinly down center of vest.Vent and undertail whitish.


Tail from below seemed whitish or pale grayish, with a vague dusky subterminal band.I was able to watch the bird preen its tail through the scope with the dorsal surface facing me. It showed extremely fine, evenly spaced dark barring along most of its length, against a white background.The banding grew a bit more concentrated near the tip to form a subterminal band. Tips of rects had thin whitish edge forming a thin terminal band.



Legs bright yellow.


Beak black tipped with pronounced hook at tip. Bluish or grayish cere + bare facial skin back to level of eye.


Eye may have been simply catching the light, but at times it had a bright brownish/reddish brown cast.


Areas not seen well: rump, underwings.



not noted.

Similar species:

The chestnut wing patch and pattern and color of tail eliminate other dark hawks.

Photographs or tape recordings obtained?

A handful of decent photos and some video which should be of good quality.

Previous experience with this species: 

Long ago in TX, and a bit more recently in LA.This is the fourth Iíve found and sixth or so Iíve seen in LA.

Identification aids:


This description is written from: 

I drew sketches of the face, tail, and tertials while watching the bird through the scope.Otherwise, memory and pictures.

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



Date and time: