Written by Bwog Staff
Although Hawkmadinebwog does not profess to be the highest authority on raptors, we have recently made the informed decision to call Hawkmadinejad by female pronouns. There is no absolute way for us to tell if the campus hawk is male or female other than DNA sex testing or actually watching Hawkma mate or lay an egg. This is because there is no uniform difference in coloration between male and female red-tailed hawks. Most raptors are not differently colored for each sex, though the common, local American Kestrel is one of the exceptions. The male American Kestrel has slate-blue wings, whereas the female does not:
More reasons for the decision and raptor information after the jump.
Perhaps if Hawkma takes a mate, we will be able to figure out with certainty as to its sex. Although most male and female raptors of the same species have the same coloration, they also exhibit sexual size dimorphism. This means that there is a difference between the size of males and females. In raptors, the females are the larger of the sexes, with female red-tailed hawks up to 30% larger than the males.
However, there is plenty of overlap in the size of the sexes, so it is almost impossible to tell the sex of a single raptor as it perches by itself in a branch as our Hawkma does. After making observations and talking with other birders, the conclusion seems to be that our bird is on the larger side of the 19-25 inch range of red-tail size (in terms of length). Therefore, Hawkmadinebwog will use female pronouns to refer to the bird we have named Hawkmadinejad, just as we have assumed it is the same hawk that was the juvenile that started hanging around campus about this same time last year.
See in the picture below: the smaller hawk above the other one is more likely to be male.