This Swainson's Hawk, a rare visitor from the western U.S. and rarely photographed in Virginia, flew past the Kiptopeke Hawkwatch late yesterday afternoon and was photographed half an hour later at Eastern Shore of VA National Wildlife Refuge, which is just south of Kiptopeke. Apparently, the bird didn't like the look of the 17-mile wide mouth of the Chesaspeake Bay, as it was heading back north.
The crisp black tail band indicates an adult or maybe sub-adult bird. The tail doesn't look so white in some other photos and normally shows grayish banding. The brownish coloration on the belly and pale underwing coverts would seem to indicate an "intermediate" morph. Swainson's are unusual among hawks in having a sub-adult plumage. They also show a wide variety of color types, including reddish, dark, light and intermediate.