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This is all so timely!  I know I'm in New Jersey, but taking that into
account ...  I had a buteo in a large dead tree, much beloved by all
birds, particularly raptors,  across a field from my house.  I put my
binoculars on it a couple of times, but I was in a hurry (rushing out
for a birding trip!) and wrote if off as a red-tail - they not
infrequently perch in the tree.  But every time the rufous upper breast
bothered me.  Finally, I was getting out my scope and held it up, sans
tripod, to the window, and the rufous streaking on the upper breast was
quite plain.  I thought that it might be a red-shouldered and decided to
set up the tripod and scope.  Well, you know the rest!  The bird, which
had sat quietly for 20 minutes, flew off as I was setting up the scope,
and I was left kicking myself for not doing that earlier.

So I'm trying to figure out if this was red-tail or red-shouldered.  The
red-tail is so much more common, yet I have never seen one in the East
that had a rufous breast.  There was no belly band, just the rufous
fading into cream.  I've looked in all my books, and the red-shouldered
does show a rufous breast, while the red-tail does not.  Is this a
definitive mark?  The size didn't strike me as markedly different from
that of a red-tail.

Many thanks,
Susan Treesh
Somerset, NJ

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