ID Help needed please

  • Errol
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5 years 9 months ago #67012 by Errol
Errol replied the topic: Re: ID Help needed please
Trevor is spot on as usual - juv. African Hawk-eagle.

Cheers,
Errol de Beer

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  • waldens@faerieglen
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5 years 9 months ago #67014 by waldens@faerieglen
waldens@faerieglen replied the topic: Re: ID Help needed please
Thanks Trevor, that confirms our original question then....

Not what I wanted to hear, but we'll just have to go back and find a Steppe.
Thanks to everybody who put in their tuppence worth, much appreciated.

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  • pittaman
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5 years 9 months ago #67017 by pittaman
pittaman replied the topic: Re: ID Help needed please
Amanda circulated this image a month ago to my raptor course group, and I concluded that it was an immature African Hawk-Eagle. As far as the Simplybirding discussion, Trevor got in first and pointed out the key diagnostics. When looking at raptors (or any bird for that matter) shape (gizz) and structure is usually more important than plumage, something which our field guides still underplay. Apart from the gizz of the bird the heavily barred tail, large pale/barred area at the primary basis and the orange-buff underparts really jump out. An additional feature apart from those mentioned by Trevor is the big head and massive bill, which are also typical of African Hawk-Eagle. (and would also rule out Wahlberg's).

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  • gordon
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5 years 9 months ago #67019 by gordon
gordon replied the topic: Re: ID Help needed please
Hi All,

Just to liven the debate up a bit... <!-- s:shocking: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/shocking.gif" alt=":shocking:" title="Shocking" /><!-- s:shocking: -->

Here are some pics taken in Kruger of African Hawk Eagle...

First with the adults, yes they were all in the same tree...
[attachment=3:mbcpsm7z]<!-- ia3 -->AfricanHawkEagle.jpg<!-- ia3 -->[/attachment:mbcpsm7z]

Closer to the juv
[attachment=2:mbcpsm7z]<!-- ia2 -->AfricanHawkEagle2.jpg<!-- ia2 -->[/attachment:mbcpsm7z]

closer crop of the juv
[attachment=1:mbcpsm7z]<!-- ia1 -->AfricanHawkEagle3.jpg<!-- ia1 -->[/attachment:mbcpsm7z]

Crop shot to allow tail barring to be more visible
[attachment=0:mbcpsm7z]<!-- ia0 -->AfricanHawkEagle4.jpg<!-- ia0 -->[/attachment:mbcpsm7z]

Now... some questions....
1. is the bill in the Waldens photo relative to the head not larger than the bird in my photo?
2. Note just how boldly barred the tail is on this juv compared to the bird in the waldens photo. (and mine is a bad long distance shot)
3. Also note just how obvious the difference is between the light underparts to the darker upper parts in my photos compared to the bird in the Waldens shot... ok given that we can't actually see very much of the underparts in the photo...
4. The tail length relative to the body looks much longer in my photo than in the Waldens photo. I do not unfortunately have a flight picture...
5. Also note the difference in the browns between the upper wing and head/nape area... there is almost none of that on the Waldens pic.

Comparing the birds I still don't think the bird in the Waldens photo is an African Hawk Eagle?

As to what it is?

Come on Trevor, spill the beans... <!-- s:spin: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/spin.gif" alt=":spin:" title="Spinning" /><!-- s:spin: -->

Cheers,
Gordon
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  • Trevor Hardaker
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5 years 9 months ago #67021 by Trevor Hardaker
Trevor Hardaker replied the topic: Re: ID Help needed please
Gordon and others,

One thing that I am still continuously learning as I go along is that different photos of the same species can play lots of tricks on all of us… <!-- s:shock: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_eek.gif" alt=":shock:" title="Shocked" /><!-- s:shock: -->

Light plays a big difference in how one perceives colours (and even the “boldness” of certain features) and photos taken in the early morning or late afternoon where the sun’s rays are much lower than in the middle of the day where the light is really quite harsh can really make birds look quite different. The angle of the photo also plays a big part and certain features (and even structural features) can look remarkably different depending on if the bird is photographed front-on, side-on or from behind. The Walden’s shot of the bird in flight is not exactly side-on and the bird is flying slightly away from the camera and I’m sure some of the structural features would appear different if the bird was perfectly side-on. Distance from the subject and just how much detail the camera picks up can also play an important role and can also serve to add to the confusion… <!-- s:banghead: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/banghead.gif" alt=":banghead:" title="Frustration" /><!-- s:banghead: -->

Bird identification, as everyone knows, is quite an intricate process and one really needs to look at a collection of features that a particular bird is showing rather than just focusing on one or two features. Fortunately, the Walden’s photo is of a good enough quality to be able to see a number of features well on this bird and, with that group of features, I personally don’t believe one can come to any conclusion other than it being an immature African Hawk Eagle. But none of us are infallible and we all make mistakes, so I am happy to listen to your arguments… <!-- s:scratchchin: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/scratchchin.gif" alt=":scratchchin:" title="Perplexed" /><!-- s:scratchchin: -->

I would be interested, based on the features that you have picked up in the photo, to hear what you believe this bird is. It is no good just saying that you don’t think it is an AHE – you need to tell us what you believe it is and the reasons for saying so... <!-- s:lol: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_lol.gif" alt=":lol:" title="Laughing" /><!-- s:lol: -->

And, once you have told us that, we can then continue the debate a little further…

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5 years 9 months ago #67023 by gordon
gordon replied the topic: Re: ID Help needed please
Hi Trevor,

I completely agree on trying to ID from one photo, colours, size, shape, proportions are all affected by perspective. For the same reasons as you point out being important for making this an African Hawk Eagle...

For me, the one worrying aspect of this bird is the size of that bill in the head. To me it fits more with one of the Aquila species. The tail also does not seem long enough for a Hawk Eagle relative to the body. Also the barring on tail is not strong enough for African Hawk. The white barring on the bird I photographed is much broader whereas this bird has a much finer white barring. It is the combination of these factors that makes me uneasy.

Bear in mind this is my interpretation of what I am seeing!! <!-- s:o --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_surprised.gif" alt=":o" title="Surprised" /><!-- s:o -->) (and no I am completely sober)

One thing I do agree on is what I can see of the underside of this bird in that it is lighter than the upper parts so my conclusion is also that it is not a full adult bird...

Another photo from a slightly different angle would I suspect clinch this. A decent look at the underwing and the full extent of the under parts would be invaluable.

I guess I really like to question!

I am going to do some more extensive reading this evening.

Cheers,
Gordon

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  • waldens@faerieglen
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5 years 9 months ago #67024 by waldens@faerieglen
waldens@faerieglen replied the topic: Re: ID Help needed please
I did indeed circulate this photo to Etienne and the raptor group, who made an id of AHEagle (juvenile). However, another birder who saw this image suggested it to be Steppe, hence the re-submission, to get some fresh eyes to look at the image. Despite having done an excellent Raptor ID course last July, I am still struggling because of the colour variations between species. This is getting interesting..... <!-- s:wink: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_wink.gif" alt=":wink:" title="Wink" /><!-- s:wink: -->

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5 years 9 months ago #67039 by pittaman
pittaman replied the topic: Re: ID Help needed please
There is a lot of variation in these raptors. Bill size can vary between individuals. I don't think you can look at one photo (one example of a bird) and use that as a basis for debate. The angle of the photo (under discussion) would make the tail look slightly shorter than if it was perched side on.

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  • Trevor Hardaker
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5 years 9 months ago #67049 by Trevor Hardaker
Trevor Hardaker replied the topic: Re: ID Help needed please
Gordon, I think the major part of the confusion here is that you are comparing your bird which appears to be a clear-cut juvenile bird to the Walden's bird which is an immature bird. One of the biggest problems we, as South African birders, face is not understanding that there is a difference between these two terms which refer to different ages in a bird and, in many cases, slightly different plumages.

In AHE, the immature plumage changes through a period of several years from their 2nd to their 4th year where it gradually attains certain features of the adult bird ie. getting darker overall on the upperparts, losing the very bold tail barring of the juvenile, etc.

Unfortunately, most field guides do not have the space to deal with all these intermediate phases and we are most often presented with an adult plumage illustration and details and, occasionally, with a juvenile one as well. There is very little description or illustration of what happens in between.

But we cannot just haphazardly blame field guides for the lack of detail as, by the very nature of their names, they are just "guides" to try and point us in the right direction. If one wants absolutely complete information, then one needs to invest in handbooks on the various groups and I'm not talking about the local raptor guides which are essentially field guides covering raptors, I am talking about the Helm-series type guides like Raptors of the World and handbooks written by the likes of Dick Forsman who provide much more in-depth detail. There are similar types of handbooks for virtually all groups in the world and, if one is really that keen on building up your own knowledge, that is the way to go. My own library is now many hundreds of books strong and I still don't have everything that I need!

Maybe, one day, we'll even have a proper comprehensive handbook to bird ID in SA...

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5 years 9 months ago #67057 by waldens@faerieglen
waldens@faerieglen replied the topic: Re: ID Help needed please
I have certainly learned a lot today, with inputs from various people whose arguments make a lot of sense. We just don't know enough about the different stages of maturity in the lives of these birds. For amatures like myself this is a real problem - we have photo's of several other un-identified raptors which we have been arguing about for a long time.
I am (at last) happy to mark it as African Hawk Eagle, and Dennis can add the photo to his website.
Thanks to all concerned.

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