Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 4-1993

Common name:

  Broad-winged Hawk

Scientific name:   Buteo platypterus
Date:   1 May 1993
Time:   approximately 3 PM
Length of time observed:   approximately half minute
Number:   1
Age:   possibly immature, as red on breast was not noticed
Location:   (NE end of Deer Creek Reservoir, Heber Valley)
County:   Wasatch
Elevation:   ? (valley bottom)
Distance to bird:   ~200-300 ft.
Optical equipment:   10 x 40 Bausch & Lomb Custom binoculars
Weather:   clear & sunny/partly cloudy
Light Conditions:   good
Detailed description of bird: --Buteo build, yet the jiz was wildly different from local buteos
--Tail appeared very short & truncated, but turned out to be untruncated, but only short relative to body/wings
--Tail black on top, with at least two visible distinct white bands in mid-tail
--Wings pale below, outlined with very distinct dark fringe on flight feathers
--Brownish above, pale below, with no bright color visible
Song or call & method of delivery:   --
Behavior:   flew low (about 50' off ground, in a big arc toward trees in  north
Habitat:   bare hill, sagebrush habitat next to Deer Creek Reservoir on to farmland with tall trees
Similar species and
how were they eliminated:
--body proportions, "short" tail, and broad wings eliminate other buteos and accipiters
--black tail with broad white bands eliminates all other possible buteos in area
--pale (not white) color below eliminates short-tailed hawk light phase, as did amount of black on tail (this hawk had more black than white on tail by far)
--lack of reddish color, proportions, and number of stripes visible on tail eliminates red-shouldered hawk
Previous experience with this & similar species:   I've never seen a broad-tailed hawk, but I have seen many buteos


References consulted:   I recognized it as probably this species prior to consulting Peterson's Western guide and the National Geographic guide.  Mark Stackhouse, though initially thinking it an odd Swainson's hawk, quickly came around when the bird revealed its underwings and tail as it passed.
Significance of record in this area or the state:   Listed as "occasional" on Aviary list of Northern Utah birds, and "rare" on other Utah list. Mark says they are more common during fall migration than spring. Looking at distribution maps, this last point makes sense.
Description from:   From memory (though salient points & arguments made there & then)
Observer:   David Salas Wheeler
Observer's address:   2196 So. 1000 Ea., Salt Lake City, UT 84106  Phone: (801) 484-7319
Observer's e-mail address:  
Other observers who independently identified
this bird:
  Mark Stackhouse
Date prepared:   3 May 1993
Additional material:   --

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