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Thread: buteo wingbeats (esp. RSHA/SWHA)

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2010

    Default buteo wingbeats (esp. RSHA/SWHA)

    Do Red-shouldered Hawks always alternate a series of wingbeats with a short glide? And do traveling buteos vary significantly in flight-style?

    The background is that, while binocular-scanning the sky, not even particularly looking for birds, I saw a distant buteo-like bird, traveling straight west, and thus following the Brooklyn coast. It was high enough and far enough away that the only marks I could be confident about were solidly quite-dark rear-wings (flight feathers) and much lighter forewings (underwing coverts, etc.) with a light yellowish or buffy cast, possibly due to or increased by the late afternoon sun.

    In other words, it looked like a Swainson's Hawk, which would be possible, but very unlikely for Brooklyn during the last week of November. Another possibility for that wing-pattern might be Red-shouldered Hawk. But it was far enough away that I don't think a sure ID is possible.

    Still, I'm curious whether this bird's very steady, even, glide-less wingbeats point to any one species or another, or whether Buteos flap more or less alike when traveling high up like that. Wind was WNW at about 5 MPH. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2008


    They often do, but not always; in suitable weather, they'll soar for long periods with hardly a wing flap at all. Also, perhaps more important, this 'flap-and-glide' is also the normal flying mode for Accipiter hawks, so you can't use it to say "that is a Buteo".

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