I saw this hawk land on a tree when I was driving back roads at Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area last week. But even with binoculars I couldn’t really tell what species it was from a distance.
But once the bird took off from the perch and began to soar overhead, I could get a look at its tail, and its ID was obvious.
Notice how the primary feathers at the tip of the wing are rotated and widely separated from each other. This rotation reduces the resistance to moving the feathers through the air mass as the wing is raised after the powerful downward thrust. The smooth plane of the secondaries provides lift and allows the bird to rise in the air column.