Outside of the Red-tailed Hawk, I have difficulty in identifying most hawks even using a bird book. I took this photo on Saturday but uncertain which hawk it is. It was smaller than most hawks so I thought that it may be a Sharp-Shinned Hawk, but uncertain. Your thoughts, please.
I agree. One of the characteristics mentioned in one of my bird books states "The Cooper's is best distinguished from the Sharp-Shinned by it's rounded tail". My second photo clearly shows a rounded tail.
Think, the difference/s may be more associated to the streaking on the breast. See what you guys think ..
The Sharp-shinned has coarse brown streaks, where the Coopers will have thin dark streaks. I may be mistaken, mindja .. but I tend to agree with pelletory: it looks like yours (Linth) may be a Coopers Hawk. Feel free to set me strait ..
Linth you mentioned Red Tailed is one you can ID well.. Look at this one and tell... pretty please? These are ones I see a lot, but not up close and personal.. only a few legible pics to use for identification.
First saw him in the air and got an ok shot.. then got back in my car and drove on my way home. Then I saw he had been going the same direction as me for about 3 miles... Had to pull off the road and get a shot when he landed on a wire shown here...
In a car, from across busy a highway through the window... (no snow though, Mags lol.)
Now see, I'm thinkin' sharp-shinned. I am, however, probably wrong! I am so much better at accipiters in my back yard... :) I sent it, along with the one in flight, to my ace birding friend, Christie. The one in flight is plenty good enough for her. Probably won't get an answer until tomorrow.
Linthicum, What would you think the wingspread is of your hawk. Looks too large to me to be a Sharpie. It is such a wonderful shot of the hawk, can see his feathers so easily, but the coloring seems so light for a Sharpie. Do the Sharp Shinned hawks go through a light morph. It looks similar in color to the Northern Goshawk, but may be smaller.
The Red Tailed Hawks here are in a very white morph color now, seen from underneath are all white. The other day when I was going to town I saw 6 hawks in the first mile away from my house. 3 Red Tails, 2 smaller farther away that I couldn't identify and one Kestrel.
With all the snow on the ground, 12 to 14 inches, I am sure the hawks are having a difficult time finding lunch.
Deb, the pics in your posts of 8:43 PM & 8:59 PM are birds in *adult* plumage, not juvenal plumage. Note the different/lighter color of streaking as you describe--and the streaking is more horizontal than vertical. If you already know this, forgive me :)
COOPS vs. SHARPS Gonna muddle this up a bit more. :) This is from 'The Western Bird Watcher' (Zimmer), which contains some info on tough ID problems.
Sharpies...relative to body size have proportionately long wings and short tails. Cooper's...proportionately short wings and longish tails (relative to body length).
Most guides point to the difference in tail shape as the best separator of Sharpies & Coops. Cooper's have rounded tails while Sharpies have tails that are typically either squared or notched at the end. While such distinctions are often useful, they are far from diagnostic. Many Sharpies have tails that are slightly rounded, especially when fanned. A distinctly squared tail will probably allow elimination of Cooper's, but a rounded tail does not safely eliminate Sharp-shinned. Cooper's of all ages have a broader, more defined white terminal band to the tail.
Cooper's of all ages have relatively massive heads (most apparent on perched birds), but the heads of Sharpies are relatively small. In flight, this results in the head of Cooper's extending much farther forward from the leading edge of the wing. Relative to head size, the eye of the Coops appears small, lending a fierce look. Contrastingly, the eye of the Sharp-shinned is large relative to head size, giving a more gentle look.
Adult Cooper's have very blackish caps that show a sharp line of contrast with the slate gray backs. Adult Sharpies are not nearly as dark-capped and show little or no cap-back contrast.
Juvenile Cooper's tend to be very buffy or tawny on the head and neck, whereas juvenile Sharpies are whiter. Breast streaking on young Cooper's is finer and sharper and does not extend to the belly. Young Sharpies are more extensively streaked below, and the streaks are larger and blurrier in nature. Bother species typically have unmarked white undertail coverts.
The size could be helpful as a sharp shinned is smaller than cooper's , but the range can overlap ( a big sharp shinned = to a small copper's) however if this guy was the size of a crow rather than a blue jay and given it's tail shape and smallish eye and the fact that the cooper's is more common, then my money is on a juv cooper's. But the real winner is the first photograph by linthicum. Terrific. Thanks, Patti
Thanks Magpye, for the help with my RT pics... I appreciate all the scans (your all heart)!
When I saw it in the sunlight, the *tell-tail* (lol) redsish tinge made me think RT. It's always good to get a second opinion or 2 or 3, hehe.
I was actually wondering what linth thought too. :-)
I knew that you had inquired of linthicum specifically, Debnes .. I'd just wanted to present some scans to maybe aid you also, before I called it a nite. Please know, that It haint been my intent to try to jump ahead of anyone. ((huggs))
I don't mean to sound uppety here, lol, but my friend, Christie, wouldn't need to use anything in particular as a reference. She's been a raptor rehabilitator for 25 years. Accipiters are her specialty, but so is anything she handles, really. She's very modest, so you can blame me if I'm making it seem otherwise. She used to monitor peregrine nesting sites, has done work with the Peregrine Fund, condor reintroduction, Hawk Watch, International, etc., is also a heck of a birder and now a professional photographer. I'm thinkin' she's gotta be close to 70 now but it hasn't slowed her down one bit. She can ID a bird from mile away with a glance... LOL
I just ask about the beak/head reference because another raptor expert (at another time on another forum) was insisting there was a difference between the way the head meets the beak on coopers versus sharpies.
I don't question anyone because I'm no expert but the sharpies I've seen always look so different to me from Coopers.
Magpied, thats so nice to have such an experienced friend.
pelletory, I think if the head-meets-beak thing were a contributing factor, my friend woulda told me long ago. She's so familiar with every aspect of raptors (and many other birds as well)--both in captivity and in the field.
Oh hey--I have a few more pics of that hawk with the poor sparrow :o I love "behavior shots"... but I really hope the sparrow died quickly!
I'm wondering if Resin could add anything to the accipiter ID topic. Resin?
Sorry for just getting back to everyone. I was out for the day. Anyway, what's the score ?
debnes_dfw_tx, when I mentioned earlier in this thread that I can identify the red-tailed hawk, I was making jest. Obviously, if I see the red tail, I know what it is (lol). Beyond that, I must refer to the experts.
rutholive, the wingspread was small, by comparison. I have photos of a Cooper (attached) and this hawk was a lot smaller than that bird. I would estimate wingspread at 16"-20". There is also a noticeable difference in the beak. For now, I must go with the Sharp-shinned Hawk. That is, for now !!!
Deb, good photos. I saw two here in my yard yesterday. Tried to get a good photo but didn't. One was male and I think the larger one was his mate. They are having a hard time find a meal. A little later when I went to town, one of them (I presume) was sitting on a power pole eating something.
I believe the ones around me are Coopers. They don't come into my garden since I took down my feeders. They were catching the doves and sparrows and eventually ran all the doves away.
We have solar screens on our bedroom window which is great for watching the birds but you can't take pics thru it. One day I watched the hawk come right up to the bed next to my window. It sat on the stones and looked inside the bushes at a sparrow hiding. My cats LOVE to sit in this window too!
Those are definatly Turkey Vultures, a magnificent creature!! Notice the black body and wing and whiteish feather definition...One of our very favorite birds. Linth has some great close-ups of them! Their wingspan is about 5 1/2 -6'. Natures cleaner-uppers!
Nice shots Paige! Ben and I love how they soar high in the sky.
You can always tell the non birder in a car when you are driving and someone says "TV's " and the non birder starts looking for a monitor on the dashboard (and not the lizard type) and has no idea that what we are talking about is a vulture. My DH and I have seen more than the normal this year or so it seems. Patti
Y'all are great! We really DO have hawks but we also have these freaky TV's! I would never know the difference up high like that, especially when looking thru the camera and it makes them smaller. They are gigantic when they land in the middle of the roads for lunch tho!
Just to prove I'm not nuts I dug up the old pic. I can tell I'm going to learn a lot from this forum!
I just bumped up another hawk thread. It is interesting, you will see both hawks you are refering to, even dave, the photographer had not noticed they were different. Sure enough...they are. Maybe you can see which on your matches.
Just today a Coop preched on that same "Hawk" slat in the fence...peering at my feeder birds, and my next door neighbors too. Surprise I have both kinds of hawks! So far the Starlings are staying in Neighbor's backyard trees. They don't even try to come devour my suet, which is a good thing.. My new little Warbler friends get it all to themselves!
I suppose since the WBC opened 2 blocks from here (about 8 years ago), many of the neighbors have been (shopping there), & attracting birds to this area that had not come this way before. I am seeing a lot more new birds this year than ever. When Spring arrives I should see a lot of transit birds too.. very exciting! All I have to do is stay home, tend the garden, and keep my Camera batteries charged, lol.
debs, very good photos. I never seem to have my camera handy when there is a bird nearby. Last year there were a couple of Sharp Shins around my feeders and they finally caught both of my chickadees to my sorrow. So I'm not too fond of those guys.
Ok...lol...that would make sense now. I've got a Wal-Mart nearby but it hasn't seemed to attract many birds. ;)
I'm so bored with my neighborhood!! We have no large trees and the only birds we have are our mockingbirds, finches, sparrows, barn swallows and the occassional dove. Last year I was SO excited I had Robins in my yard for a few days!
Do the hawks and vultures actually scare the other birds away from an area?
Yeah Paige the Hawks really keep the rodent population down wherever they go..When the Grackles come back to nest in Spring they will keep the hawks at bay... The Mockingbirds will keep the Grackles in line.. and life goes on.. Everyone has their place.
Vultures might look scarry, and with no feathers on their head, some think not too pretty too.. No feathers on their head so they can do their job thoroughly. They are excellent cleaner-uppers..Who wants to be scraping up carcasses (road kill, etc.), all the time? (Not me.) They dispose of things that would make people sick if they had to touch or breathe in the stinch..TV's are harmless to humans, unless you want to interfere with a meal they have found.. And (eeeewe!), I sure won't interfere with that..
They are enormous and majestic birds, Ben and I have a deep appreciation for them.
Great, I trade Hawks for Grackles? No thanks! lol My resident Mockingbirds and I have become friends and they do their job very well. I've even come to love to hear their constant squawking. Nothing helped my rodent population except my carrying them off.
Yes, I agree that the vultures are certainly doing their jobs. My neighbor who works for animal control probably does appreciate them cleaning up the roadkill! They are cool but I don't want them perching on my house.
What I was trying to say is they all work it out between themselves.. None of them bother me as long as I remain a mere witness and do not interfere with any of them. There aren't any rats around here either. Actually I have noticed a lot of harmony more than anything. As far as birds, I love all of them...however if a TV lands on my house, something is really up! "Yikes what died??" (It would be bigger than a rat.)