Honey Buzzard???? - Nyslvlei

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11 years 9 months ago #769 by nkgray
nkgray created the topic: Honey Buzzard???? - Nyslvlei
The attached photo shows two buzzards photographed today at Nylsvlei. They were circling in the same general area and I assumed that both were the same until I processed the photos.

The bird on the left is most likely an immature Jackal Buzzard, but the bird on the right appears not be the same. The wings are shorter, there is no rufous tail and there are apparently three narrow dark bands on the pale parts of the underwing. It would appear to have the giss of a buzzard.

Is this perhaps a (rather tatty) immature European Honey Buzzard?



Neil Gray

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11 years 9 months ago #770 by Doug
Doug replied the topic:
Hi there.

Definitely Juv European Honey Buzzard.

Here are a few reasons why I agree with your ID:

1) That looks like a very nicely developed yellow eye there giving it a nice Honey Buzzard Look.

2) The tail has the two smaller bars higher up and seems to be developing the broad subterminal band although not fully formed yet.

3) The barring on the flight feathers seems to consist of fewer broader bars. The barring on the Buteos seems to be finer

4) The clincher for me. Basically the barring in Buteos seems not to extend to the primary flight feathers (or if so, very faintly). The fact that barring extends so clearly all the way to the primaries seems to be in perfect keeping with pics on page 130 of the Sasol Field guide. Also particularly P2 and P3 seem unbarred always in all lumages of Buteo. Honey-buzzard's P2 and P3 seem to have at least one very distinct dark bar on each of P2 and P3

Hope that helps...

Doug

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11 years 9 months ago #772 by Doug
Doug replied the topic:
Hawks, Eagles and Falcons of the world, page 221 quotes "The best field charachter in all forms is the barring in wings and tail"

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11 years 9 months ago #781 by Paul Tyler
Paul Tyler replied the topic: Buzzards
Hi Neil

Looking at your pics, I agree that the bird on the right is a Honey Buzzard, but the bird on the left looks like a Steppe Buzzard to me. Judging by pics I have looked at on Google and the fact that this pic was taken at Nylsvlei I'm almost sure it's a Steppe Buzzard. The Jackal Buzzard is more of a Highveld species, scarce in Bushveld regions.

Regards

Paul Tyler

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11 years 9 months ago #782 by nkgray
nkgray replied the topic:
Thanks Paul & Doug,

The Honey Buzzard is a lifer, so great to get confirmation.

However, I still lean towards Jackal Buzzard for the other one. The tail is for me too uniformly and deeply rufous for a Steppe Buzzard. Also the tail of a Steppe Buzzard should exhibit some barring and I see no hint of that here.

Lets see if we can get some more input here, it is only by tapping others' experience that we all become better birders.

Neil Gray

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11 years 9 months ago #783 by Paul Tyler
Paul Tyler replied the topic: buzzard
Hi Neil

Don't forget that the Steppe Buzzard is arguably one of the most variable species of birds on the planet. Some individuals appear very different from one another.

Regards

Paul

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11 years 9 months ago #784 by
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Neil.

Now you have opened up a can of worms.....
Buteo ID.

Hmmm...

Off hand I would say a few comments on Jackal Buzzard, Steppe and Others without access to my books.
The very rufous tail...

Firstly, you do get more Sufous Versions of Steppe Buzzard that have a more rufous tail but that having been said, a few times I have seen Adult Jackal Buzzard at Barokalalo so with the hills etc there I don't see why you might not get them in that sort of area.

But here is the tricky thing when it comes to those dam Buteo Tails...

Firstly all books seem to generally say that the Unbarred Rufous Tail is not a charachteristic of Steppes, but I have been told that some colour variations can have plain rufous tails. That is what used to lead me to confusion with Long-legged Buzzard as some books said a completely unbarred rufous tail was diagnostic of Longlegged.
That no longer seems to be the case. I have read that the tail actually needs to be Peach Coloured, almost tending towards buff it is so light and translucent in Longlegged.
That basically puts you back at the Steppe Buzzard Jackal Buzzard group as both can have a rufous tail..

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11 years 9 months ago #785 by
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More on the above guest post.

Now that one is basically looking at Steppe vs Jackal, I would say that this bird would have to be a Steppe.

Firstly, juvenile Jackall Buzzards tend to have predominantly white bellies and a very yellow eye (possibly allowing confusion with Honey Buzzard).
This bird does not have the white belly. The only way for Jackal buzzard not to have the white belly then is if it was moving towards adult Jackal Buzzard thus there would be some pattern of the adult jackal buzzard breast pattern.

To finally put a name to it would be the breast which lacks the "T" of a Steppe Buzzard adult, although Juveniles are know to lack this "T" and further more can have far more rufous tails than the adults.

I would probably say that as there is virtually not signt of the "T"{ yet, this may well be a very young Steppe Buzzard.

Regards.
Doug

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11 years 9 months ago #786 by nkgray
nkgray replied the topic:
Wouldn't it be great if we had a bird book that showed plumage at different ages!

Even the very young Jackal Buzzard has tail barring and my photo shows a hint of a terminal tail bar, which would make this a "sub-adult" rather than a "juvenile" - assuming of course that there were not unbarred rufous-tailed Steppe Buzzards around.

If I really look closely at my photo I might even be persuaded that there is a hint of the paler lower breast banding of the Steppe in it. So we are no closer to a decision.

Perhaps Sahotspots could start a photo database of the range of colour variations associated with age and colour form of the various large raptors????? This would require a good deal of consensus however on the ID of the submitted photos!!!!

Neil Gray

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11 years 9 months ago #792 by Doug
Doug replied the topic:
Hi Neil.

I had a look at my books and without having access too them earlier, I made a few errors in my statements, but here are some point as to why I think it is a Steppe Buzzard.

1) The broader wings of Jackal Buzzard. If you look at page 130 and 131 of Sasol, look at the tails of the two birds. If you look at the corner made by the straight side edge of the tail and the rounded tip. In Jackal Buzzard, the loges flight feathers cause the edge of the wings to be in line with this “cornerâ€

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