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 Post subject: Goshawk, Gabar
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2009 7:30 am 
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One morning on the way to Pafuri we came accross this melanistic raptor on a kill (Red-billed quelea).

Image
Large view

Image
Large view

The first image gives an idea of the under-tail pattern... the only feathered part of the bird that is not black. The bill shape is evident and one can see the legs are a bright yellow. I had good scope views of the bird... the black blotch seen half-way up the tarsus is part of the leg colouration and was evident on both legs; it was similar in shape and size.

In the second pic one can see some eye colour. The sunlight falls over the bird's head and I would have thought if there was any cere colour to be seen, it would be evident here... but it appears to be black / dark as well :huh:

Candidates: Sooty Falcon as the only bird that may foot the bill based on its normal colouration was dropped from my list because it just would not be dark enough, the eyering and yellow cere would have been evident.

Both Gabar Goshawk and Ovambo Sparrowhawk would be the right size, both have melanistic forms, but neither have yellow legs or yellow / light eyes.

Are there any other long-tailed raptors in the 36 cm range that sometimes present in a melanistic form?

The size of the bird (in relation to the kill, 12 cm head to tail) seems to be about 3 times the length of the quelea +/- 36 cm.

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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - Raptors
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2009 9:06 am 
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JvR, that is a super cool bird for a puzzle as you encounter them pretty much never so I guess the answer won't jump out at you by itself. I've seen a bird like this once and it had me thoroughly confused. In fact, I only ID'ed the bird in retrospect upon doing lots of reading.

The bird is, in my opinion, a melanistic Gabar Goshawk but a juvenile. Even in the regularly coloured birds, the juveniles have yellow legs but then the plumage is at least a clear indicator that the bird is young. Here the plumage looks as one would expect from the adult but the yellow legs, grey cere and pale iris gives the age away.

Another bird that one might have been tempted to consider is the melanistic form of Black Sparrowhawk (adult, not juvenile). The problem with that is that the throat will always show at least some white and in most cases a lot of white, the cere would have been bright yellow and the tail would have been clearly unbarred.

Lekker birdie this!

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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - Raptors
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2009 9:14 am 
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Was just checking different options on Roberts' MM and I'll agree with Deefstes on juv. Gabar.

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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - Raptors
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2009 9:16 am 
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what a nice picture :clap: ...for learning two different birds :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - Raptors
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2009 9:51 am 
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deefstes wrote:

The bird is, in my opinion, a melanistic Gabar Goshawk but a juvenile.

Lekker birdie this!


Thanks for the direction / answer, deefstes... and confirmation, Johann. From your lack of response on my suggestion / question about more long-tailed raptors with melanistic form I assume the Gabar Goshawk and Ovambo Sparrowhawk then to be the only two species with those (melanistic) variations.

Thanks again

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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - Raptors
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2009 10:32 am 
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Johan van Rensburg wrote:
From your lack of response on my suggestion / question about more long-tailed raptors with melanistic form I assume the Gabar Goshawk and Ovambo Sparrowhawk then to be the only two species with those (melanistic) variations.


From what I understand melanism can occur in just about any species. Some species have a higher incidence of melanism but that is not to say that it happens only to them. In other species it is very rare or have never been recorded but in theory it can happen. Gabar Goshawk certainly is a species in which melanism occurs quite often. In fact, I believe at least one out of every ten Gabar Goshawks are melanistic. Some sources report the ratio to be even higher. My personal database of observations indicate a ratio of 13.3%.

Ovambo Sparrowhawk also has a relatively high incidence of melanism. I don't have any statistics but it's not quite as common as in Gabar Goshawk. I've seen melanistic Ovambo Spar only once and I've seen melanistic Black Sparrowhawk once as well (although I believe in Black Sparrowhawk it is more correctly named a "dark morph" than true melanism). I have also heard of melanism in African Goshawk and Little Sparrowhawk (I think) as well as Northern Goshawk (European bird). I've even read of melanistic Augur Buzzard, imagine that!

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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - Raptors
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 10, 2009 12:10 am 
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Interesting challenge.

Apart from location, is there any reason why Black Harrier wouldn't fit the bill?

At the start of a steep learning curve, so be gentle :roll:
Thanks
Allan

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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - Raptors
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 10, 2009 9:07 am 
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hobbit wrote:
Interesting challenge.

Apart from location, is there any reason why Black Harrier wouldn't fit the bill?


Are you referring to JvR's black raptor in the tree? If so then yes, there are a number of reasons why Black Harrier wouldn't fit the bill.

Let's start with the bill :wink: Adult Black Harrier (the only plumage where the undersides aren't light brown) has a bright yellow cere which this bird doesn't have. Black Harrier also has a boldly barred black and white undertail pattern. Mostly though, the entire body structure and head structure of Harriers are just completely different. This is hard to describe but don't worry about it too much, once you've seen a few Harriers you will start to appreciate that it is a completely different type of bird.

As you correctly pointed out, the bird would be well and truly outside of its established range of distribution but only only that, the habitat is completely unsuitable for Black Harrier. Remember that Black Harriers are grassveld and feinbos birds so when a bird is sitting in a bushveld tree like this one, I'd be tempted to say there is absolutely no way it could be a Black Harrier.

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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - Raptors
Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2009 12:10 am 
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Deefstes,
thanks for the info re the Black Harrier query.
In my defence the Newmans I have with me (prefer Sasol, but it's 10,000 km away) doesn't really show the yellow cere or the tail barring in the adult. I'll try to get a Roberts while we are over in SA again (in 13 days :dance: )
Point taken about the shape - I'll try to educate my old eyes.

Thanks again :thumbs_up:
Allan

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 Post subject: Identification Help - Raptors
Unread postPosted: Sun Jun 28, 2009 4:00 pm 
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Please help me with the following ID's. The first one was seen on one of the Rust de Winter roadside routes, between 6h00 - 7h00 at a freezing -4'C.
I think it might be a Gabar goshawk: because of the orange cere and feet, the with plain white vent, grey barring, eyes deep(or dark) red, and white "tips to wings" Also the size fits.
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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - Raptors
Unread postPosted: Sun Jun 28, 2009 4:40 pm 
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Yolande...this is a Gabar Goshawk.

Well done on the ID!! :clap: :clap:

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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - Raptors
Unread postPosted: Sun Jun 28, 2009 6:10 pm 
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I agree with Gabar.


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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - Raptors
Unread postPosted: Sun Jun 28, 2009 8:17 pm 
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Agreed. :thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - Raptors
Unread postPosted: Sun Jun 28, 2009 9:39 pm 
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Thanks so much lizet, batmad and justin!!! you have made my day!!
( another thanks and :tongue: Just N :wink: )

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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - Raptors
Unread postPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 9:46 am 
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Its a pleasure! :thumbs_up:

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