English and Scientific names:

White-tailed Hawk (Buteo albicaudatus)

Number of individuals: 

1 immature (second year bird)

Locality: LOUISIANA: 

Calcasieu Parish

Specific Locality:

Highway 14 near Harrington Road.

Date(s) when observed:


Time(s) of day when observed:  

about 9:00 am

Reporting observer and address:

Paul Conover

Lafayette, LA

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

Mac Myers, Dave Patton.

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. Sunny. Bird first seen plunging to ground, thus, below eye level and against dark background. Afterwards, the bird flew directly overhead, giving close, excellent looks at all ventral features.  

Optical equipment: 

Zeiss 10 x 40 binoculars

Distance to bird(s): 

30 yards at the closest, when overhead.

Duration of observation:

perhaps 2 minutes of decent viewing


Ricefields in stubble along Highway 14.  

Behavior of bird: 

Bird was seen diving into field after prey. We noted the white flash of the tail, and pulled over. After a few seconds, the bird lifted up, we ID’ed it, and it began circling. It crossed over us, then continued rising and heading N. It was soon out of sight.


 A Buteo about Red-tail size, superficially resembling Red-tail in having belly band. Tail bright white with fairly wide, distinct black subterminal band and white terminal band (Photo seems to show fine dark banding on outer web of outer rectrices, possibly other rects as well). Underparts white/whitish with belly band. Breast white. Bird appeared hooded, with brown of hood extending onto throat. Underwing linings whitish with no patagial mark as on Red-tail, with duskier feathering on median or greater underwing coverts, and darker markings on wrists. Flight feathers finely banded with dark, shading darker at tips and giving wings a distinct dark trailing edge. Overall effect of wings as in Swainson’s Hawk, with dark flight feathers and pale linings. Upperparts were dark brownish with reddish shoulders or lesser coverts—the reddish color was seen well, but the exact pattern not discerned.






Not heard

Similar species:

Other hawks are superficially similar in many regards, but the white tail with distinct black subterminal band in conjunction with other WTHA field marks [color of mantle, pattern of underwings] rules them out.

Photographs or tape recordings obtained?

I shot video, while Dave and Mac shot digital photos. Dave’s pictures accompany this report.

Previous experience with this species: 

Seen a few times in Texas, and in Louisiana.

Identification aids:


This description is written from: 

Memory and observation of photos and video. 

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




Paul Conover

Date and time: 

10:00 PM, December 10, 2006