Leucistic Red-tailed Hawk in Richmond Hill?
by Adriana Pisano Beaumont
(Richmond Hill, Ontario, CANADA)
On Easter Monday, we spotted, in a tall deciduous tree in the ravine behind our house, a very light, buffy, pale looking Hawk sitting on the bare branches.
He actually looked somewhat like a Snowy Owl
With binoculars, we could clearly see a pale 'reddish-pink' tone to the body feathers, a distinct white tip at the unbanded tail and a VERY pale creamy breast with some light tan spots.
He (or she) was HUGE (~22") by comparison to the Red Tailed Hawks
we commonly see around here (we're on the Oak Ridges moraine in Richmond Hill).
We didn't think it was a raptor we had seen before, so we poked around the internet and it seemed to most closely resemble a Ferruginous hawk.
The problem is that we kept reading that they are not indigenous to our area and are quite scarce.
Then I came across a forum posting that talked about leucistic Red-Tailed Hawk
He was just happily hanging out in that tree for the better part of 15 minutes - not very interested in the crowd of Squirrels
or birds at our feeders.
I figured he had already eaten or, more concerning, was the possibility that he belonged to a local falconer and had escaped into the wild (although he had no jesses and he looked very healthy).
It finally dawned on me to get a photo but by the time I got my camera out of the bag and rushed back downstairs, he was gone.
Any thoughts on the sighting would be appreciated...
A really beautiful specimen to behold, regardless of what he was.