1986 South 1125 East, Malta, Idaho, US (42.243, -113.575) .
HABITAT WHERE THE BIRD WAS OBSERVED
Farmland with large cottonwoods.
SIGHTING DURATION, CONDITIONS, and EQUIPMENT USED
We stayed and looked for about 15 minutes. I recall it was partly cloudy. I used an Olympus Stylus SP-100EE to photograph the bird.
DID YOU TAKE NOTES?
No, not at all
DID YOU CONSULT A FIELD GUIDE OR OTHER REFERENCE WORK?
Yes, during the observation
WHICH GUIDE(S) OR REFERENCE(S): DID YOU CONSULT?
Sibley Western, the latest edition.
DESCRIPTION OF THE BIRD(s)
Fairly small hawk with distinct white checkered pattern on the back. Red shoulders clearly visible. Black uppertail with white stripes. Very streaky front, with majority of streaking towards the breast. Showed yellow gape.
BEHAVIOR OF THE BIRD(s)
Was sitting on the ground in a field only about 15 feet away, pushing away grass with its talons before flying west across the road to the large cottonwoods. Observed for the majority of the time in these cottonwoods, later seen flying around them.
HOW AND WHEN DID YOU POSITIVELY IDENTIFY THE BIRD, AND WHAT CLINCHED THE IDENTIFICATION FOR YOU?
As soon as I saw it I thought it might have been a Red-tailed Hawk, but it was too lean and too small, and I immediately noticed the white checkered pattern on the back. I didn't want to jump to conclusions so I snapped a couple photos and checked in the field guide. Sure enough, it most certainly was a Red-shouldered Hawk.
HOW DID YOU ELIMINATE SIMILAR SPECIES? WHAT WERE THEY?
I eliminated Red-tailed Hawk by the positioning of the streaking on the breast and the size, not to mention the strong white checkered patterning on the back.
WHAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THIS (AND SIMILAR) SPECIES?
I have taken a couple trips to San Diego where I have been able to see multiple Red-shouldered Hawks flying around as well as sitting. Although I don't have extensive experience I became familiar with their size and behavior.
DESCRIBE YOUR GENERAL BIRDING EXPERIENCE
I have been birding for pretty much my whole life, but more seriously for the past 3 or 4 years. I travel quite frequently around southern Idaho and I try to bird as much as I can. I would say my ability to identify birds is fairly good although I still get tripped up by a few species.
WERE PHOTO(S), VIDEO, AND/OR AUDIO OBTAINED FROM THIS SIGHTING?
FIRST ROUND VOTING:
Documentation supports identification of Red-shouldered Hawk.
description and photos confirm the identification
The photos provided proof that this was a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk.
Photographs and description seems to eliminate similar species (namely Broad-winged Hawk)
While this report lacks some specific details, several points mentioned (size, structure, and “checkered pattern on the back”) are supportive. The attached photos are diagnostic showing most of the key marks for this species – good bird.
Excellent diagnostic photos and written details.
Well documented - and a very interesting date to have an immature Red-shouldered (in fresh-looking plumage) in Idaho. Was this from an early nest in California and then a long post-breeding dispersal? Or could it have been hatched/raised much closer??