Thursday, October 30, 2008

Second-Year Sharpies

Most of the adult hawks banded at Cape May cannot be assigned a precise age. Instead, they get the designation "after hatch year" or (more rarely) "after second year." In a few cases, there is sufficient evidence to determine that a hawk is in its second year. In sharp-shinned hawks, a second-year bird will have mostly adult feathers with some hatch-year feathers remaining.

The sharp-shinned hawk below, banded last week, has some of its hatch-year feathers among its wing coverts.

This sharp-shinned hawk, banded yesterday, has several hatch-year feathers in its tail. In addition, it had a few older feathers in its secondaries.

Yesterday's sharpie also had the reddest eye and most orange neck I have seen so far.