The photo, while something of an embarassment given the timing, did capture the gorgeous trousers the so-called redtail sported; they were the beautiful cream favoured by so many denizens of the sky. I have in fact posted a pieced-together shot of a barn owl on my bulletin board, with the intention of including exactly such an elegant undercarriage in a portrait. Risking a gilded lily, they are frequently covered with tiny fawn-coloured fleurs de lys and look splendidly regal.
Because I seem to lack more important things to ponder, I gave some thought to why the under-body colouration might be so pale. The lack of bright colours makes sense, of course; why waste a great outfit that you can't easily flash towards a prospective mate? But why cream rather than dark? Does a white feather reflect more heat back to a nest of chicks? Is it easier to locate itchy-scratchy intruders on a white field?
Such are the critical mysteries in a quiet life. Luckily, our bird feeder hangs just six feet from my studio and I KNOW FOR SURE that the red headed guy eating peanuts was a red-bellied woodpecker. His white belly with hardly a hint of red was irrelevant. So there.