[Hong Kong] ID please

ID please

ID please
Hard to varify it is juvenile of Peregrine Falcon or Common Kestrel
21st Oct 2017
Mai Po

_DSC3385abc by john yu, 於 Flickr

_DSC3353abcdef by john yu, 於 Flickr


Juvenile of Saker Falcon ? Peregrine Falcon ? Common Kestrel ?


Certainly not a Kestrel, and it looks too skinny for Saker to me.

There is some discussion about this bird possibly being a juvenile Barbary Falcon which is sometimes split from Peregrine.

Nice pix!

Mike KilburnVice Chairman, HKBWSChairman, Conservation Committee


This is definitly a very interesting bird by many aspect which picked up the attention of many of us.
I think it would be great to post more pictures of it if there is any, as this is far to be a straightforward ID.
Picture showing better the undertail coverts and the tertial pattern would be of great help I think...


Frankly the more I looked into this bird, the more I believed that this is an adult or a 2nd Year Saker Falcon....
There is a very large panel of features pointing out to this species to me :
- the head pattern is just a perfect match
- the barring on the rectrices reduced in the central pair
- the small spot at the base of primaries on the outer vexil
- the underwing pattern, I can't find any picture of a Peregrine showing such a contrast between (underwing)covert, the lesser and median covert are almost unbarred  and heavily contrasting with the greater with dark brown barring...This is again really pro-feature for Saker...

Then the overall color of the bird, the rufous fringed lesser and median covert (upperwing) contrasting with greater covert and primaries/secondaries...

Happy to hear what other think, I think the key point is to age it properly...


On the other hand, for me this bird is not a Saker.
- Head pattern is wrong for me. The mask and moustachial are quite dark, making the eye indistinct. Saker do sometimes show dark moustachial, but on these birds the entire plumage is usually dark, unlike the bird here. The supercilium seems indistinct.
- Underparts show distinct but narrow streaks on the breast and trousers with dark 'arrowhead' markings on the rear flanks. Saker adult typically shows spots (not streaks) on the breast, and is often darker on the underparts than this bird.
- Barring on the undertails coverts is not typical for Saker (some photos do seem to show some barring though).
- Underwing of Saker usually shows a darker band on the greater underwing coverts, due to dark-centred feathers with white spots on edges. This bird has whiter feathers with narrow dark bars, a pattern I cannot find on photos of Saker.
- Little tail projection beyond wings.
- The taxon of Saker most likely to occur (milvipes) seems to frequently have strong barring to the feathers of the upperparts (scapulars and greater coverts), unlike this bird.

For me the closest fit is with juvenile Barbary Falcon (sometimes treated as a subspecies of Peregrine), as in these photos: ... Bird_Image_ID=49358 ... y_ID=&Location=
- Head pattern with dark mask and moustachial. Moustachial fairly narrow and sharp-tipped. Mask contrasting with paler crown. Pale super behind eye connecting to pale rear crown.
- Eye ring and bill faintly yellow but not distinct (Barbary apparently changes to yellow on bare parts earlier than related species, shortly after fledging).
- Underparts with narrow streaks and distinct arrowheads. It has been suggested to me that the underparts are too white, but I wonder whether that is related to exposure on the photograph; the flight photo suggests some contrast between the white cheeks and sandy breast (giving a hobby-like appearance).
- Upperparts with distinct narrow buff fringes to lesser and median coverts, weak barring on greater coverts.
- Obvious broad barring on tail.
- Underwing greater coverts white with dark bars. The forewing is slightly paler than on the OBI photo, but is this within a range of variation?

As Jonathan has said, more photos would be useful.


Thank you Mr Kmike, Mr Jonathmartinez and Mr Ajohn !

Here some photos attached for your reference.

_DSC3246abcdef by john yu, 於 Flickr

_DSC3252abcdef by john yu, 於 Flickr

_DSC3253abcdef by john yu, 於 Flickr

_DSC3254abcdef by john yu, 於 Flickr

_DSC3255abcdef by john yu, 於 Flickr

_DSC3273abc by john yu, 於 Flickr

_DSC3274abcdef by john yu, 於 Flickr

_DSC3277abc by john yu, 於 Flickr


More photo added

[ 本帖最後由 ((華仔)) 於 24/10/2017 21:30 編輯 ]


Many thanks for these excellent additional photos.

They strengthen my view that this is not a Saker - the underwing looks pretty uniformly checkered with these additional shots and the jizz looks even less imposing. Saker is a real brute with a similar jizz to Pomarine Skua - muscular and heavy around the shoulders and neck - and with a sense of latent power. This bird almost looks slim enough to be an Amur Falcon in some shots.

I have been caught out before by brown juvenile Peregrine before at Mai Po a few years ago, and this reminds me of that that bird.

Mike KilburnVice Chairman, HKBWSChairman, Conservation Committee


Youtube short video


to me there are really many features pointing out to Saker.

- the tail projection to me exclude Barbary Falcon, wing tip fall at tail tip in most pictures on OBI for Barbary and it is clearly not the case on this bird.
Other features to me that is wrong for a juvenil Barbary (as I see no point comparing this bird with an Adult Barbary) is the underpart background which is clearly of-white, and should be more warm on a Barbary, the dark marking seems also very bold to me.

- to me the most likely confusion would be with a juv Peregrine. The question is it possible for a juv Peregrine to show such a head pattern, with so poor moustaches, so poorly barred undertail coverts.

To me there is many more features matching an adult Altai Falcon a suggested split from Saker in Birds Of Central Asia which is giving a description that to me is clearly ressembling this bird. A male would explain its small size then...

I think pictures of thisbirds should be sent to people used to deal with these taxa.

Very nice set of pictures and very well documented sighting...Hopefully its ID will be sorted out.