Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2005-

Common name:

Broad-winged Hawk

Scientific name: Buteo platypterus
Date: 11-01-05
Time: 10:25 am
Length of time observed: 5 minute
Number: 1
Age: juvenile
Sex: n/a
Location: 5600 West along State Road 201
County: Salt Lake County
Latilong: 40*43'33.85/115*01'44.11
Elevation: 4200 feet
Distance to bird: 40 - 65 feet
Optical equipment: 10x42 Nikon Monarch Binoculars 20-60x80 Nikon Sky & Earth Scope
Weather: Clear and Sunny
Light Conditions: Bright direct sunlight
Description:        Size of bird: Smaller than a Prairie Falcon, but larger than a Merlin.
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Buteo-like
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: brown, white and rufous
(Description:)            Bill Type: hooked raptor bill
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Small buteo-typed raptor, with a completely brown back with light gray spotting on the wings, white belly, breast and throat. There were light rufous streaks on the neck extending down the sides of the bird. This bird wasn't heavily streaked, but rather lightly marked. I couldn't get a good view of the tail from where I was viewing the bird as it was perched on top of a metal box. The primary projection appeared to be short of the tail tip, but due to the position of the bird it wasn't completely clear.
Song or call & method of delivery: none heard
Behavior: Sitting perched on a metal box off the highway
Habitat: Shrubbsteppe/grassland along a highway
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Northern Harrier - juveniles show a lightly buffed wash over the breast. Females show markings over the entire breast and belly and are a dull brown. Male birds are overall gray in color. Adults have yellow eyes, and all have a distinct look to the face. This species is also a bit larger.

Cooper's Hawk - juvenile bird is a possibility, but this species is entirely streaked across the breast and belly in thin rufous streaks. The most obvious ID point would be the extremely long tail and short primary projection. This accipeter also is fairly elongated in the body, and
appears thin compared to other raptors.

Red-shouldered Hawk - Body type is quite similar, but all plumages differ. The eastern juvenile is the closest in comparison, but has dark primaries, and is streaked over most of the breast and belly. The spotting on the wings is more extensive in this species as well.

Swainson's Hawk - This species appears similar except it shows a thick rufous breastband (audlt light), which the bird I saw lacked. The light juvenile is much darker in coloration, and shows a lot of white on the head. Also a much larger hawk than the bird I saw.

Red-tailed Hawk - With so many variants in plumages and subspecies, there is always the possibility of this species, but based on size, and markings I would doubt it. Most Red-tailed Hawks show a belly band, which the bird I observed lacked. And although I did not get a good look at the tail, it was not light rufous like the typical tail of a red-tailed hawk. A typical light western subspecies is far to heavily marked on the chest and sides. Krider's lacks the side streaking, as does the southwestern subspecies. The eastern subspecies is very similar but
shows the belly band.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Spent 4 years in Wisconsin and observed this species regularly in the fall. Also observed one summer bird in Wyoming in 2004. Have seen good numbers of all the common Utah species, as
well as all the mentioned Red-tailed subspecies. Have only seen about a1/2 dozen Red-shouldered in Wisconsin
References consulted: The Sibley Guide to Birds
Description from: From memory
Observer: Tim Avery
Observer's address: 1754 Garfield Avenue, Salt Lake City, Utah 84108
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: none
Date prepared: 11/02/05
Additional material:  
Additional comments: Although this is a rather late record for this species (latest in Utah according to previous sightings), there were 2 Wyoming sightings in the last week, one on the 31st of October, just one
day earlier.