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An Unusual Attitude in a Hawk

Allan Brooks
Publication Information
3 (May-June)
From Field and Study

An Unusual Attitude in a Hawk.-In the Ibis for October, 1939 (p. 622)) Mr. M. E. W. North records a curious attitude of the Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caevuleus) , “In February 1937 I watched a bird, perching on a tree, which had a curious habit of raising its tail till this stood vertical, or even sloped in the direction of the back so that its under-side was uppermost.” This brought to my recollection that I had seen a similar habit in the White-tailed Kite (EZatim Zeucurus mujusczllus), when I was studying the species in California in 1923. Under date of August 21, I find in my diary the following note: “A White-tailed Kite is still around; when at rest it frequently elevates the tail almost like a wren.” Later I saw a kite with its tail so high over its back that the outline of the bird suggested the letter “V”. I sketched this extraordinary attitude (for an accipitrine bird) but cannot iind the drawing now. Evidently the habit is an ancestral one. It may be well known to other observers but I cannot recollect seeing it mentioned in any published accounts; in one of these the kite is said to tilt its tail several times in the manner of a Sparrow Hawk, but the pose with the tail elevated almost vertically is nothing like the pumping action of a Sparrow Hawk’s tail which is simply a wagging motion to be seen in many birds and in several other species of hawks.-ALLAN BROOKS, Okanagan Landing, B. C., March 8, 1943. 

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