Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 51.djvu/611

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595
THE HAWKS OF NEW ENGLAND.

hawks are most abundant during the last part of summer, and at that time if a flock of poultry should stray out into the field a single hawk will sometimes kill two or three of them before they have reached a place of safety.

Although only a buzzard, he kills his prey with a single stroke, like a true falcon, and his capacity is enormous, yet sometimes for weeks together he is content to live entirely on mice and grasshoppers. His color is grayish brown above, and yellowish white beneath, with traces of rusty red on the tail feathers, which, when the bird is in full plumage, become wholly red with a black band near the tip.

But trying to know hawks by their colors is uncertain work at best, as members of most species change their entire coloring

PSM V51 D611 Red tailed hawk.png
Red-tailed Hawk.

at least once in their lifetime. These changes are popularly ascribed to age, birds in full plumage being spoken of as old ones, though they have always seemed to me to depend more on the general vigor of the bird, as it is not uncommon to find specimens showing every mark of great age, with stiff joints and beaks and claws worn blunt, in precisely the same attire as when they left the nest, while those in full plumage, as far as my observation goes, are never very old, and are always in excellent condition.

The red-shouldered hawk is smaller and more lightly built than his cousin, and he has a longer tail. In full plumage he is rich brown on the back, with wings and tail barred with black and white, and chestnut-colored shoulder patches. Beneath he is dull red, more or less barred and spotted with white. Young birds are much the same color as redtailed hawks. This bird