While hiking on the Middle Sister a couple of days ago, I heard a call that sounded enough like an eagle, that I might have passed it off as a strange eagle, had I not seen the bird. Fortunately, as I hiked up, it flew from its perch and landed in another tree. My brother saw where it landed, and I was able to find a position where I could get some pictures of it through the trees. The first three photos with this entry (including the one above) are of this bird. I think this bird is a Harlan’s Red-tail Hawk, though I am not positive about that. Comments are welcome.
A short distance later, I heard a second bird making the distinctive ‘creee’ call that Red-tailed Hawks are known for. I knew it was a different bird because the first bird was still calling below us, and this one was calling from higher up. This bird took off and I did not get a good look at it, but did see that it was not a Steller’s Jay imitating a hawk. I heard this hawk calling several more times as it soared by while we were hiking up.
While taking a break on an open slope near the tree line, I saw and photographed a ‘cree’ calling hawk soaring below. Unfortunately I was not well prepared, and the shutterspeed was slow, leading to a blurry picture (see last photo with this entry). However, it seems clear from the photo that this hawk looks a bit different than the first one. It appears that it might be lighter in color, but the most striking difference is the tail. The second hawk has a much redder tail with dark then white bands at the tips of the tail feathers. My thought on this bird is that it’s a Western Red-tail Hawk, though again, I’m not sure about this at all.
In addition to my questions about the identification of these birds, I also wonder about the calls. If these are separate subspecies of Red-tailed Hawk, is it just coincidence that I heard the different calls from them? Is the first one a juvenile still begging for food (and would that imply it was hatched out near here)?