Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hybrid Red-tailed by Red-shouldered Hawk

Here's another entry from CAS Director of the Coastal Center at Milford Point, Frank Gallo, concerning a possible hybrid raptor:

Lynn Jones and I found this odd raptor on the Oxford CBC. It nearly made our heads explode trying to work out what it was.

It had a short white and black-banded tail with wider than normal white bands for a Red-shouldered, more like a Broad-winged Hawk, but the the wings didn't fit for Broad-winged. It acted like a Red-shoulder, sitting low in the forest, had a wing pattern mostly like a Red-shouldered, but it had a brown head, pale throat, and upper chests markings more like a Red-tailed.

I sent it off to Brian Wheeler and he forwarded it to Jerry Liguori. Both agreed that it's a possible Red-tailed x Red-shouldered Hybrid. Their response is below. Very cool.

Remarks from Brian Wheeler, author of several notable raptor guides:

"This looks more like a hybrid Red-tailed Hawk and Red-shouldered Hawk. The head is very red-tailed-like, as are the rufous sides of neck. Lack of distinct white barring on secondaries is interesting, too. There are some aberrant adult Red-shouldered Hawks with funky barring on the under parts, but this bird seems to have something other in it. It is not anything like a California type, either (western bird)."

"I sent your images to Jerry
Liguori and both of us feel it is a possible hybrid with Red-tailed Hawk by head and ventral markings." ... "It has mix of Red-tailed Hawk characters on the head and some of under parts, and even on the wing."

Liguori's, also a notable raptor author, comments to Brian:

"At first glance, it looks like another hybrid RS x RT, it has RT traits on the underbody and RS-like upperparts and tail. I'd love to see other photos, but just from these, hybrid looks good."

Thanks to Frank for the amazing find, knowledge, and photos, and of course to Brian and Jerry for their additional expertise.

Photos © Frank Gallo


  1. Most interesting. Wasn't aware these hybridized. And just when I was really getting the hang of identifying buteos...

    Backyard and Beyond

  2. What's the Oxford CBC? Can CT Environmental Headlines use one of the photos if we blog the story with credit to Frank Gallo? Thanks.

  3. The Oxford Christmas Bird Count. Yes if you credit Frank and please link back to us, thanks.

  4. although we haven't seen it recently, there is a red shouldered/red tail hawk hybrid in Saxtons River Vermont. It's been validated and photos are on this website;