English and Scientific names:

White-tailed Hawk

Number of individuals: 

One juvenile/first year

Locality: LOUISIANA: 

Cameron Parish

Specific Locality:

Willow Island

Date(s) when observed:

27 October 2007

Time(s) of day when observed:  

About 8:30-9:30 a.m.

Reporting observer and address:

Robert D. Purrington

Metairie, LA 70003

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

Phillip Wallace, David Muth, Paul Conover

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

Clear skies, bird mostly lit from the front.  Seen with sun behind the observers or from sides (90 deg)

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

10X40 binoculars

Optical equipment: 

Variable, about 75 yds to 200 yds

Distance to bird(s): 

Off and on for an hour

Duration of observation:

small scattered oaks, soaring over adjacent fields, brush


small scattered oaks, soaring over adjacent fields, brush

Behavior of bird: 

Perched much of the time, occasionally changing perch.  Interacting with a Red-tailed Hawk on 2-3 occasions.  We (myself and PW) first saw bird perched, then a number of times in flight, mostly from the side where it was hard to see the under-wing pattern. 


Long-winged buteo, back totally uniform brownish-black.  No white feathers or feather edgings. Black of back extended over crown, but the face was light.  Rather like a female black scoter pattern.  Underparts were heavily streaked on sides and center of belly, throat mostly whitish.  Wings dark above.  In flight like figure WT109 in Wheeler and Clark.  Underside of wing with bold markings but little contrast between wing linings and flight feathers.   The best way to describe the underwing pattern is to refer to the photo WT107 in Clark and Wheeler.  Tail mostly dark but whitish at base.


Not heard

Similar species:

Red-tailed Hawk. Harlani: Not long-winged, in almost any plumage would have some white or white-edged feathers on back.   Even light morph would have patagial bars on leading edge, tail would probably have more white, intermediate or dark morphs would have dark wing linings.  Under-wing pattern of light morph calurus might resemble this bird, but back would be heavily blotched with white, and tail would be very different.


Swainson's Hawk--no plumage of Swainson's would have the under-wing pattern of this bird.  Swainson's wing-shape also quite different. Back would be similar except in light morph.  In most plumages, Swainson's would have a dark upper breast.  Face pattern is wrong as well. 



Photographs or tape recordings obtained?

Photographs, video and still, by Conover and Muth.

Previous experience with this species: 

Some in Texas, otherwise at Jeff David landfill

Identification aids:

at time of observation: None, initially.
after observation:  After observation, reference to Wheeler and Clark, and eventually Wheeler's Raptors of Western N.A.

This description is written from: 

From memory, one day later.

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


At least 90-95%.  Everything else would seem to have been eliminated (long wings, uniformly dark back, underwing pattern, breast streaking, tail pattern), but hawks show a lot of variability.  Photos should make it 100%


Robert D. Purrington

Date and time: 

28 October 2007