Friday, February 4, 2011

Cooper's or Sharp-shinned Hawk?

It's not unusual to see one of these raptors around my yard--and near my bird feeders--especially when the weather is cold.

(Please click on individual photos...most of them will enlarge to show details)
2009

2009

I mean, every body (and bird!) needs to eat.


2009

2009

Fortunately I've never seen a hawk actually capture a bird although there have been a few close calls.


2009

2009

I've tried to ID these birds in the past but may have been incorrect at times. There are markers...but to me, they all seem so similar.


2010

Size is not a fool-proof way to tell the difference.


2010

2010

It is said that the Sharp-shinned hawk is more jay or dove sized, where-as the Cooper's hawk is crow sized or larger.


June 2010 (Taken through  family room window and then through 2 screens on the porch)

I've never seen one as small as a dove or jay, so I usually ID them as Cooper's hawks...but that's not to say I've been correct.


January 2011

January 2011

If you want to rack your brain and give it a shot, visit the Project Feederwatch Accipiter photo gallery and them come back and tell me what you think.

February 2011

Many of these photos have previously been published on my blog, but I'm putting them all here in one post to get your opinion and help me ID them.

(This post was also published at the Virginia Gardener Magazine online, 2/4/11).


Words and photos ©Thanks for today.™, by Jan Huston Doble  @ http://www.thanksfor2day.blogspot.com/
 Not to be reproduced or re-blogged without express permission of the author.

29 comments:

  1. I like the site you link to because it shows juveniles as well as transitional plumage, but I wonder whether there are male/female differences as well? In any case, it's hard for me to tell a major difference, even on the ID page!

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  2. P.S. According to Birds of Michigan (I know that doesn't help you), only sharp-shined are in lower MI over winter, but... with migration patterns changing, who knows if that's even foolproof?

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  3. Oh, never mind. Purple means year round (blue meant winter) so they're both here in winter. #nevermind

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  4. OK, I'd say Coopers--the page before the one you linked to says Cooper's have barrel shaped bodies and larger heads, and sharp-shinned are broader at the shoulders and have smaller heads. But I'm no expert.

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  5. Thanks Monica! I tend to agree! But you'd be surprised how many people have corrected me on that in the past;-)

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  6. Well, not 'corrected', but rather, had a difference of opinion;-)

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  7. I can not Id them but the first one were indeed skinny It is nice of you that every body (bird) may eat Enlarge the picture show details The 3 foto from above it looks the hawk has a hole in his pack but maybe it his leg
    greetz Jacky sorry my writting is not so well (or good)

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  8. Sent you a poster thing about making ID's. The white stripe along the bottom of the tail makes it a Coopers (I think-- need my cheat sheet in front of me) Clear as mud. Good luck.

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  9. Stunning powerful birds.
    I see hawks once in awhile...hope I never see them catch any prey.

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  10. Jan,

    The 2009 bird on the bird feeder shows clearly a squared off tail, Sharp-shinned Hawk. It also has a small head.

    The 2011 birds show a rounded off tail and larger head, makes them Coppers Hawks. It could be likely to have both species there at the same time. Both eat birds for a living.

    Males are much smaller in the two hawks. A male Coopers would be the size of a female Sharp-shinned.

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  11. Id ing birds can be such a challenge...I'll leave the Hawks to the experts.

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  12. Wonderful photos Jan!! We are so lucky to have Randy but here is another great way to lean about identifying our birds

    http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/coopers_hawk/id

    You most likely know it already. How lucky to have these raptors come in so close! I hope you never have to see one catch one of your other visitors.

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  13. Size isn't a good indicator because females tend to be a third larger than males, leading to size overlap, so I just look for the square versus rounded tail. Looks like both species have visited your yard.

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  14. bellis perennis, they tuck their one leg up and that is what you are seeing.
    Thanks for the link you sent, Janet. I'll print it out.
    Thanks, too, for your insights, Randy. It still doesn't seem any clearer to me, although it seems like a piece of cake for you.
    Carol, thanks for the additional link. I've looked that one over as many times as the one I added here. Neither of them seem to help make it any clearer (for me). I honestly still cannot see the differences any more clearly when they are right there in front of me. There is so much overlap. Even the experts will admit it is not as easy as '1, 2, 3'.
    Sweetbay, the square vs. round tail still doesn't always seem to be clear to me. I must have a perceptual disorder or something;~}
    Patsi, & Darla, thanks for dropping by;-)

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  15. We have Cooper Hawks, and the way I know is because that's what my husband says they are! They are definitely larger birds. I like to see them soaring across the sky.

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  16. Hi Jan,
    I can't help you with the ID, but it looks like others have. It's cool that you've had beautiful birds hang out at your place over the years, and hopefully, they don't eat too many of your other birds.

    What zone are you in?

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  17. I am with you - while I have several hawks who visit, I can't ID them too well either. Finally I gave up and just enjoyed them.

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  18. Hi Deb, maybe your husband 'gets' them and can see the minute, subtle details, like Randy.
    Hi Sue, I'm in zone 7-a. I am sure they do 'eat' the smaller birds but happily it's been when I haven't been watching. Sometimes I've wondered whether feeding the backyard birds encourages the hawks to come here. I've concluded that it probably does...but overall, I'm helping out more birds than I'm putting in peril, I've concluded.
    Karyl, I like your approach and think I'm going to start thinking about the 'details' less and just enjoy the 'overall picture' more;-)

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  19. Those hawks look amazing, I only get crows on here. Love the photo with the snow by the way

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  20. Hi Jan
    We've had a similar hawk in our garden and thought he was a young Cooper's Hawk......My dad took down his bird feeder when this hawk starting hunting the small birds (sometimes a little traumatic!) Wonderful pictures
    Malinda

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  21. Not sure they are all the same type of hawk, but some definitely look like Cooper's. (But I am no expert!) :)

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  22. I am just a novice when it comes to bird ID. I have been learning a lot from blogs though. These hawk photos were fun to look at. The red-tailed hawks around here never get that close.

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  23. We mostly see red tailed hawks here so I'm no help to you with the ID's, but I see you've had some expert help already.
    I especially love your last photo. Have you visited the Feederwatch blog? They have a pic of a red shouldered hawk hanging from a suet feed. Unique!
    There's also a 'Tricky IDs' button on the right side, featuring just what you're wondering about.
    Here's the link:
    http://projectfeederwatch.wordpress.com/
    Thanks for stopping by and saying hello. Nice to hear from you :)
    Our purple finches go elsewhere in the winter and come back in the spring. I miss them.

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  24. I'm no help at all with the ID, Jan but I will say they are quite majestic birds!

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  25. I'm no help, Jan; I just assume the hawks I see around here are Cooper's because they're as big as crows. And I can never get a very close look at them--as soon as I see one, I usually run for my camera, and they've always flown away by the time I return:) Fortunately, all the smaller birds seem to mysteriously disappear once the hawk makes his appearance, too.


    I watched the weather forecast last night and saw temps in the 50's predicted for later next week--yippee!!

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  26. I am absolutely no help, Jan, as I only know redtails, peregrins, and eagles...but these are glorious photos and how wonderful to be able to see the birds that close.

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  27. I can't help with the ID....but I am the same as you -- I admire these statuesque birds, but cringe when they attack innocent little creatures! I know "it's nature," but I don't want to see it! Ha.

    Thanks for the congrats on baby Clara :-)

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  28. Hi Jan, I can't help you identify those birds of prey, but I loved looking at your photos. I'm also glad that I haven't spotted one yet near our bird feeders or bird houses, although you're right - they also have a right to life and a place in the ecology and are beautiful, noble birds.

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Thanks so much for visiting and taking the time to comment! Please enjoy your TODAY and all of the gifts in YOUR garden of life!

Jan

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