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 Post subject: Ex-Identification Help - Raptors
Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 20, 2010 5:56 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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I photographed this ring-tail Harrier at Kgomo-kgomo this past weekend.
I would go for Pallid because of the very obvious pale collar and the broad brown band on the cheek.
Image

Image

Image

Any takers with another opinion?

Jon are you out there...!?


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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - Raptors
Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 20, 2010 8:53 pm 
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Hi Lizet,

That collar does look good for Pallid, but I'm a bit unsure about some of the other features.

The primary pattern does not look right to me - ie. it appears less distinctive/boldly marked than it should be. There is also no sign of the pale curve to below the carpal area.

There appears to be too much white around the eye and the dark cheek patch should extend way under the lower mandible.

Monty's would show fine streaking on the underparts, which are not apparent here (may be worth checking your full size image for this or the lack of it).

My concerns may be due to light, moult or just that this is not a "classic" marked bird, but I'm going to agree with Pallid because of that collar.

Barcud

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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - Raptors
Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 20, 2010 9:34 pm 
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I thought it was an African Marsh Harrier but upon further reflection I've changed my mind to a female or juvenile Pallid harrier. There are some similar-coloured individuals in my book The Raptor Guide of Southern Africa by Ulrich Oberprieler & Burger Cillie.

Dave

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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - Raptors
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2010 8:16 am 
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I will go with juvenile Montagu's Harrier based on:

1. Colouring of under parts seems uniform where as sub-adult and female of both Pallid and Montagu's show some streaking
2. This bird shows 4 dark bars on the tale in the last photo. Pallid Harrier juvenile shows 5 bars
3. Pallid Harrier (juv and fem) should show a dark line through the eye which this bird does not show, it only has a thin stripe.

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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - Raptors
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2010 9:09 am 
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Thanks for your input Barcud & franscoisd.

francoisd wrote:

1. Colouring of under parts seems uniform where as sub-adult and female of both Pallid and Montagu's show some streaking

I still think it's a Juv. Pallid. According to the Collins birdguide both juv. pallid and Montagu's are unstreaked..I think the streaking is only visible from the first year on, sub-adult as you said? The best feature I would say is the pale collar which are enhanced by uniform dark brown sides of the neck which is very clear on this individual in pic2

francoisd wrote:
2. This bird shows 4 dark bars on the tale in the last photo. Pallid Harrier juvenile shows 5 bars
Where did you get this info from, Sasol I presume? All the juvenile bird pics I looked at shows the same tail barring for both (4 dark bars). I can't find any text on the juv tail barring - I'm using "Raptors of the World" & "Collins birds of Europe/Brittian". I did came across the text of Paul Wood on the zestforbirds site, mentioning this feature from Sasol....Will have to study this text in depth..


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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - Raptors
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2010 9:43 am 
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I would also agree with Pallid. The Montagus would start to show a little more streaking. Lizet's bird compares well to one I saw in December, near Wakkerstroom:

Pallid Harrier

The collar is quite distinct in immature male Pallid Harriers, and shows in both of our birds. The tail barring is an indicator, according to Sasol, but I would imagine this varies quite widely in individual birds, depending on moult, age etc.

Cheers

Niall.


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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - Raptors
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2010 11:24 am 
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This is a lekker challenge. I will always be hesitant to appear too confident of juv/fem ringtail ID's but I'd like to pitch in on this one with a vote for juvenile Monty's. Seems I'm going against the majority thinking though but here are my comments:

First of all, when ID'ing ringtails it's important to first establish whether the bird is a juvenile or an adult female. The fact that this bird has virtually no streaking to speak of on chestnut underparts, is contrastingly dark on the upperparts and sports a bold facial pattern I would say it's a juvenile.

Now on to the plumage features that I think I can pick out from these pics. Most, to my mind, point to Monty's Harrier but some actually do point to Pallid as well. I'm writing the features that point to Monty's in blue and those pointing to Pallid in green.

1. The base of the primaries lack the pale colouration that forms the Pallid's pale "boomerang" on the underwings.

2. Not only are the primaries (seen from below) of Pallid plain at the bases (giving the pale boomerang pattern) but they are also paler towards the tips. In other words the barring on the primaries is restricted mostly to the central area. On Monty's the barring extends evenly all the way to the tips of the feathers with a darker trailing edge. I have to be honest though that I think the picture of Lizet's bird can go either way on this feature. The bird does seem to have a nice dark trailing edge on the primaries but then the barring is very difficult to pin down as it does start right at the carpal joint but does not really extend to the feather tips.

3. On both the underwing and the upperwing the primaries appear to be a shade or two lighter than the secondaries. This is a feature of Pallid Harrier but it is also a feature of juvenile ringtails in general. I'm not sure how useful this is when you're trying to seperate a juvenile Monty's from a juvenile Pallid.

4. Still looking at the underwing, the pale subterminal band shows what I think are three fairly important characteristics:
a. It is broader than the dark terminal band (would have been narrower in Pallid).
b. It is evenly broad over its entire length (on Pallid it would have tapered from broad at the primaries to very narrow close to the body).
c. It is evenly pale over its entire length (not getting darker closer to the body as with Pallid).


5. As regards the upperwing I'm not really sure what to make of it. Like I said above the secondaries are darker than the primaries and also there appears to be no significant barring on the upperwing. Both of these are features that point to Pallid but then they're probably true of juveniles in general. I'm not sure. The bird does seem to have a darker band at the base of the secondaries which would point to Monty's.

6. The facial pattern is indeed quite bold but I don't think this is enough to lead one to ID it as Pallid. It is what leads me to believe that the bird is a juvenile. However, the dark line through the eye is fairly indistinct. The supercilium is very broad (would have been quite thin on Pallid) and the supercilium merges with the white cheek to form an extensive white area around the eye. I believe all of these to point strongly towards Monty's.

7. The underparts should show at least some streaking on the sides of the breast and on the flanks. I can't seem to pick up any streaking really and this points to Pallid.

8. The barring on the tail (above and below) holds another key. On Monty's the dark bands are all the same thickness and the same colour while on Pallid the last band is usually darker than the others and also thicker. Lizet's bird shows evenly sized and coloured dark bands.

9. Looking at the undertail, a feature that is particularly useful with juveniles is that on Pallid Harrier the outer tail feathers are pale with only a dark subterminal band visible. This gives their undertail, especially when spread as in Lizet's picture, a pale outside frame. On Monty's the outer tail feathers are barred and coloured exactly like the rest of the tail feathers and the barring on the undertail of Lizet's bird extends right to the edges.

One of the reasons why these ringtails are so difficult to identify is because the features are often quite arbitrary and there exists some overlap between the two species. There aren't really any diagnostic features and you are often left to identify the bird based on a collection of features. In my opinion this bird shows enough features congruent with Monty's Harrier that I would have identified it as such - but that's just me :D

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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - Raptors
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2010 12:18 pm 
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People who joined the forum before 2006 think it's a Montague's Harrier, people who joined after 2006 think it's a Pallid Harrier. I might be onto something here...

:hmz:

I joined the forum IN 2006, so I will have to pass on this one. :tongue:


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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - Raptors
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2010 12:25 pm 
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Pallid = 4
Montagu's = 2
:popcorn:

I asked TAG to look at the photos and he said he needs all his raptor books and will have a look tonight.

@JoelR: IN 2006 just go with Harrier :D

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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - Raptors
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2010 1:10 pm 
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francoisd wrote:
@JoelR: IN 2006 just go with Harrier :D

LOL, or just flip a coin. In fact, that's probably what we should have done from the outset.

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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - Raptors
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2010 1:26 pm 
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I flipped a coin. It was 'tails', which means it's most definitely a ringtail. How helpful! :whistle:


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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - Raptors
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2010 1:33 pm 
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You'd have to agree that this is a very flippant approach to bird ID.

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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - Raptors
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2010 3:30 pm 
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Thanks for starting off my day with a good laugh! :thumbs_up:

But seriously, this is fascinating stuff ... so much to learn and your debates are always illuminating.

:popcorn:

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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - Raptors
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2010 5:42 pm 
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Thanks for the input Niall & Deefstes.

I would have to change my opinion and say that this is not a juv. but rather an imm or female, the fact that this bird's eyes are yellow tells me that it's older than 3 years (most likely a subadult female?). The presence of the pale collar and darker neck still bothers me. Montagu's never has this!

As always Johann got the better quality shots, so here are a few more!
Image Yellow eye, pale collar and dark neck(boa)

Image

ImageUniform brown secondaries

ImageLight collar with dark "boa"


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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - Raptors
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2010 7:11 pm 
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arks wrote:
... this is fascinating stuff ... so much to learn and your debates are always illuminating.
:thumbs_up: one of the best thread :clap:

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