Note pale yellow eye and
well barred tail of juvenal plumage. Note rufous in the tail, which
supports this bird being of northern origin rather than "Western"
It's usually assumed
that dark morph birds seen in Ontario are "Western" Red-tailed Hawks
(subspecies calurus) because dark morphs are very rare in
"Eastern" Red-tailed Hawks. However, a few dark morph birds occur in
northernmost populations of Red-tailed Hawks in Eastern Canada.
These "Northern" Red-tailed Hawks were given the subspecies name 'abieticola'
(meaning dweller of the fir) but it hasn't been formally accepted by
birds differ from typical Eastern Red-tails in southern Ontario, and
darker birds occur in this northern population. In many ways
Northern Redtails (abieticola) are intermediate between
typical Western (calurus) and Eastern Red-tailed Hawks
(borealis). The Ajax bird could have hatched in northern Ontario or
northern Quebec. Further support that this dark morph is of northern
origin is rufous in the tail, easily seen in the photos. Rufous is
frequent in the tails of juvenile Red-tailed Hawks in the east and
infrequent in juvenile Western Red-tailed Hawks.