Harris Hawk

Jeff Lawton

I’m pretty sure I spotted a Harris Hawk here in west Santa Barbara on Friday 20 Nov at 3PM.  I saw him twice, maybe a juvenal based on size.  First time, I saw a large crow chasing a bird that was about the same size.   I thought that was odd, but could tell the chase-ee flew like a hawk.   Later I heard some hawk calls, so I got out the glasses and spotted a small hawk with stunning red shoulders (above and below) and a very bright white band on the tail.  In flight, the red wasn’t rusty, it was RED!  Saw the red shoulders and white tail in flight twice, but was never close enough to see anything else.  All observations were from at least 50 meters to 250 meters.


Jeff Lawton

Santa Barbara

Ron Hirst

Hi Jeff,  I suppose it's possible although a Harris's Hawk would be noticeably larger than a crow, and the fairly common, and crow-sized, Red-shouldered Hawk would exhibit many of the characteristics you mention. The first key item I was looking for in your description that would make a boldly red shouldered hawk, with a (very) broad white band at the base of the tail, much more likely to be a Harris's Hawk is the following, excerpted from Birds of the World  "Plumage coloration is bold and diagnostic--mostly chocolate brown to almost sooty blackish".  and  "Juvenile Harris's Hawk is similar to adult, except that breast and belly are streaked with cream or buffy coloration, and chestnut of legs is barred with cream. ... rufous patches typically are reduced and dullish."   Ron Hirst, SB