Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Unusual Sparrowhawk Plumage?

Had this in my garden on Sunday morning and I was struck by all the white in it's upperparts - can anyone age/sex it for me?

It had it's back to me for ten minutes and then, just before it took off it turned around for a couple of seconds - fantastic stuff!


David Sutcliffe said...

I'm no an expert on fine plumage details Charlie but I would go for a juvenile male (?) It's back seems to have a tinge of blue grey starting to show and according to Collins guide "Barring of underparts often course, broken up and irregular on breast".
Really nice pictures and a great bird to see in the garden !

charlie streets said...

I worked out it's size by measuring a square of the trellis - it came to 12 1/4 inches (31cm). So that would fit just right with it being a male. Just wondered why it had so much white mottling.

heavy birder said...

I have seen adult males and females with the same sought of plumage. Dick Forsman the raptor expert might be able to help. email dickforsman.com

charlie streets said...

Hi Nick,

I've sent the photos off and will get back to you when I hear back.


charlie streets said...

And here's Dick's reply:

The white markings on the upperparts are something every Sparrowhawk has, but they usually become visible only when the bird is relaxed and fluffs up its plumage. The markings themselves are the white basal parts of each scapular feather and the extent of white varies individually. Your bird must be one of the extremes, showing lots of white even spilling over to the inner greater coverts and tertials, but still within the so called "normal variation".

heavy birder said...

Well done Charlie I thought Dick Forsman would help, he must get 1000s of emails so its very kind of him to reply so quickly.