Bird #444 — White-tailed Hawk

buteo (hawk) albicaudatus (from albus, white, and caudatus, tailed)

Monday, October 20, 2008 — 9:36 am

Goliad County, Texas — Route 77A south of Goliad

This was shaping up to be a pretty good day — two lifers and we hadn’t yet gotten close to our destination. The White-tailed Hawk can only be seen in southeast Texas. It’s a large bird and perhaps the most beautiful hawk I’ve seen. We actually saw it because of a mistake — I missed my turn and we were on a slightly-longer alternate route.

I first spotted two immature White-tailed Hawks sitting in a brush pile along the road. I knew what they were, even though I hadn’t seen one before, because they were darker than immature Red-tails and the white patches were more striking. I pulled over and got this photo.

White-tailed Hawks - October 20, 2008 - Goliad County, Texas

Right after I took this shot, the closer one flew off to a more-distant brush pile. We drove on.

Three minutes later, I spotted an adult on another brush pile. There was no mistaking the pure white chest and belly. It sat and watched me as I got out and took several pictures. When it decided I’d gotten enough, it flew about 50 yards and landed on another pile.

White-tailed Hawk - October 20, 2008 - Goliad County, Texas

White-tailed Hawk - October 20, 2008 - Goliad County, Texas

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