Rough-legged Hawk - dark morph juvenile, Hadley, MA. Dec 14th. Digiscope image of a distant hovering bird. Can be aged as a juvenile by the rather diffuse grayish terminal band to the tail and diffuse band along the trailing edge to the wings. An adult would show a much more contrasting black trailing edge to the wings and black banded tail. Wheeler (2003) mentions that juveniles of this plumage type are common in males and very uncommon in females.
An unexpected bonus for our Northampton CBC team (Scott Surner, Brian Kane and Lisa Rock), good close views of a dark-morph juvenile Rough-legged Hawk which spent several minutes quartering and hovering over the fields on Aqua Vitae Road, Hadley. The bird alighted briefly before being harassed by crows and heading off West toward Northampton.
The first two images in the sequence are digiscoped shots, followed by a series of digibin images. I was pleased with the digiscopes as the bird was about 250 meters away and just hovered long enough for me to make a digiscope attempt worthwhile. I rarely have success when trying to digiscope flying birds and usually resort to digibin shots, no matter how distant the subject might be.
Anyhow, this was one of many highlights from a highly productive morning in Hadley, part of the Northampton CBC.