Leucistic Red-Tailed Hawk in Lincoln, RI
© 2012 Peter Green. All rights reserved.

Leucistic Red-Tailed Hawk in Lincoln, RI

Nope, this is not a Snowy Owl… this is a rare and elusive leucistic Red-tailed Hawk that lives in Lincoln, Rhode Island. Leucism is a condition in animals characterized by reduced pigmentation, similar to albinism.

The dark eyes indicate this is an old bird and indeed she has been sighted in the area for over 10 years now. It’s truly amazing that she has survived for so long. Typically, leucistic/albino animals do not last in the wild because, without their natural camouflage, they stand out to predators. It’s also amazing that she is able to stealthily stalk and catch her own prey without the aid of her camouflage.

I’ve looked for her many times with no luck. On the few occasions I’ve caught a glimpse it was truly awe-inspiring – she’s almost completely white except for a few colored feathers – shockingly beautiful. In 2012, I got pictures of her flying away with a snake in her talons (which are also white).

© 2012 Peter Green. All rights reserved.
© 2012 Peter Green. All rights reserved.
© 2012 Peter Green. All rights reserved.
© 2012 Peter Green. All rights reserved.
© 2012 Peter Green. All rights reserved.

UPDATE: I’ve been fortunate to catch a few more glimpses of the elusive beauty since this original post in 2012. Here are some newer photos from 2015:

© 2015 Peter Green. All rights reserved.
© 2015 Peter Green. All rights reserved.
© 2014 Peter Green. All rights reserved.

What more? Here’s an interesting story/photos of a leucistic RTH that was found caught in an animal trap and in poor health. Unfortunately, a few toes needed to be amputated so the bird is not releasable and is now in the care of Tamarack Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center in Saegertown, PA.


  1. Joe
    Posted 14 Apr ’12 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Amazing. Your photos never cease to impress me.

    • Peter Green
      Posted 14 Apr ’12 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, Joe, I appreciate it.

  2. Anna LeBlanc
    Posted 14 Apr ’12 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    This is stunning Peter! I never even knew a bird like this existed.

  3. Jason Sharp
    Posted 14 Apr ’12 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    I love the last one with the wings on the downstroke causing the feathers on the tips to curve up.

  4. Jeannine
    Posted 14 Apr ’12 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    Superb shots!! Can you tell me where about you saw it?

  5. Anna LeBlanc
    Posted 16 Apr ’12 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Sad to say Peter after searching Lincoln Woods yesterday we didn’t catch a glimpse of him….

    • Peter Green
      Posted 16 Apr ’12 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      Better luck next time – I certainly know the feeling of disappointment when coming up empty.

  6. Peter Green
    Posted 17 Apr ’12 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Kari – good luck

  7. nancy
    Posted 13 Dec ’12 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful. Live in portsmouth and for two days we had a red tailed hawk sitting on our telephone pole. Majestic. Ur pictures r beautiful

  8. Vivian Maxson
    Posted 1 Feb ’13 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Peter for these photos. I would love to see this hawk in person! What a beauty!

  9. Mary Ann Hatch
    Posted 4 Apr ’13 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    Great pictures! The detail of the snake is great! Did you know when you shot the picture that he had the snake?
    I see this hawk and its mate flying over fields in the area around Lincoln Woods.
    Richard and I watch them from his house across from The Hearthside. We have pictures of them
    eating a large bird on the lawn.
    Mary Ann

  10. Ann Bradley
    Posted 3 May ’13 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Peter, these pictures are incredible. We used to live in Warwick, but we’re in NC now.My husband is from RI. I’ve gotton more interested in birds since coming back to live in Wilm., What type of camera did you use for those shots? Great bird watching!!

    • Peter Green
      Posted 6 May ’13 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      Thank you, Ann – I currently use a Canon 7D. Good luck!

  11. Sue
    Posted 2 Feb ’14 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    We saw him today. He sat at the top of a tree for at least 45 minutes my so took some nice pictures of him. We thought it was an owl until we saw the picture up close. Beautiful bird.

  12. Cynthia Tanzi
    Posted 18 Jan ’15 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    Lincoln Woods is across the street from me and I’ve never had the privilege of seeing this hawk. I will be looking closer from now on!

  13. Tama Marks
    Posted 5 Dec ’15 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for posting this. I have one in my woods behind my house and thought it was a Snowy Owl, till someone sent me the link to your pictures and post. I am watching for ours to take more pictures, but this was great to see. Do you happen to know what it’s nest looks like or where they nest? I am an amateur. Thank you.

  14. Tina Niesluchowski
    Posted 16 Jan ’16 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    I have a sighting if a bird very similar to this!…going nuts trying to ID it. Is the a way I can send a picture to see if you think this is what it is?

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