Rockfish Valley Trail 11/20/14

All photos are Marshall Faintich

I headed over to the Rockfish Valley Trail this morning, not expecting to see very much on this cold morning, and most of the birds I saw there were common winter species.

Eastern Bluebird

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

However, as I was hiking on the downstream trail along the fence line just past the 151 bridge, a hawk flew from the end of the line of coniferous trees. I couldn't see much of it, other than it looked a bit large to me for a hawk. When I got to the end of the tree line, I saw this hawk high up it one of the trees on the far side of the Rockfish River. In the field, my best guess was that it was a Red-tailed Hawk, but the photos show some unusual markings.

Unusual Red-tailed Hawk

Unusual Red-tailed Hawk

I sent these hawk photos off to a few hawk experts, including Jerry Liguori, and got the following reply: "That is an excellent example of a 'Northern' Red-tailed Hawk or abieticola. They are mostly from the boreal forest of Canada and the very northern US. They are a richly colored, heavily marked version of borealis.

You can read more about this "Northern" race at Click here

E-mail comments on this report

Return to blog page home