Okay, so I'm flaunting my newbie ignorance once again, but here goes. I recently saw this beautiful hawk in flight, waaaaaaaaaaaay over across a field, and I snapped a few quick shots before he ducked out of sight.
The primary problem is, my first onsite attempt at identifying him went way astray once I had a chance to look at the pictures. My first guess was a Swainson's Hawk (mostly due to size, the light belly and patch between the wings and tail, and also due to the location). But once I compared my shot to other images I could find of Swainson'ses (Swainsons'?), it didn't look like the same bird.
Please click to see larger image
Second problem: that was the only one of my quickly snapped shots that was even close to decent. The rest were a lot more like to this one (which I include here only because it at least sort of shows the coloration of the tail and wings):
One of these days maybe you guys will be able to learn me my birds. In the meantime... help?
UPDATE: For those few who (like me) didn't know, it turns out I found me a female Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus), also known as a "Marsh Hawk." (White rump = Harrier. Gotta remember that!)
Thanks so much to my quick responders / teachers (Dawn, Kathie and Susan) for the help on this one! I'm learning, guys! Slowly, but I'm a'learning.