Crop of original photo (see next post down) courtesy of palemale.com
Ohio Red-tailed Hawk maven John Blakeman on the possible reasons that the tail of Pale Male's mate Zena has unusual markings and is missing some of the "normal" ones--
The horizontal stripe on Zena's tail feather is known as a "hunger trace." It can occur for two reasons. Most often, especially in eyasses (seen in immature hawks, before they have molted to adult plumage in their second summers), hunger traces are from actual hunger, periods of time when the eyass failed to eat enough food to fully grow emerging feathers while on the nest.
Feathers are pure protein. An eyass going a day or longer without food will have hunger traces in all developing feathers. Most eyasses have minor, insignificant hunger traces in just the smaller parts of the feathers, not the quills. These are insignificant.
But a strong hunger trace that creates a weakness in the shaft of the feather is ominous. The feather is weak and can later break off. The hawk cannot recover from this and will not be able to fly. It will starve.
The second cause---perhaps---is a fright response to lightning in thunderstorms. You can imagine, perhaps, the sounds, heat, and light when a lightning bolt strikes a nearby tree. Hunger traces are clearly caused by hunger, but perhaps also by lightning-induced fright.
Zena's hunger trace has not caused any problems, as the entire tail feather remains intact and fully functional.
In haggards (adults), hunger traces occur only on the feathers developing at the time the trace occurs, which, then, is only in a few flight feathers. A two-day strong rain and storm period could keep the bird from eating. Or, a lightning strike in a roost-tree in August might cause the trace.
The lack of a dark band near the end of some of the feathers is a not uncommon plumage variance. The band, across all the tail feathers, is called the sub-terminal band. But a small percentage of red-tail simply have only portions of it, or it's absent altogether. It's absence creates no problems.
Many thanks John, I had no idea what might have caused the aberrations in Zena's tail!
Note that the feathers on Doorstep Dove's back still remain half raised and have ever since her interaction with the Cooper's Hawk. Possible nerve damage? Whatever the case it doesn't seem to have diminished her capabilities one whit.
|Here's a look at the splash of red on her head.|
And when it comes to staring the Common Grackle's yellow, and I admit even at human size, scary eyes take the top prize for potent looks.