[CT Birds] mystery bird in Guilford
Steve Mayo and Rebecca Horowitz
rsdmayo at sbcglobal.net
Tue Nov 6 22:50:51 EST 2012
I'd like to provide a couple more irrelevant field marks, because Greg has provided such a great post, and Amy has provided so many great photos! The mantle and flight feathers are warmly colored and uniform, with only a few white spots (typical of Sharp-shinned and Cooper's Hawk juvenile birds). The back feathers are not "scaly" like a Gos.
In none of the images are there any streaks or spots in the undertail coverts. Very rarely, you might encounter a lightly streaked Gos. But if you saw this particular bird, even at a considerable distance, it would still give the impression of a buffy head and relatively white chest and belly. The bird has "clean pants." This Cooper's field mark can be seen at considerable distance.
Finally, check out the under-tail. The bands in the retrices are straight across, not the least bit wavy, and with no light borders, no matter how faint or thin.
In general, plumage-wise, Juvenile NG presents itself as a uniformally dark, dirty, scaly bird. The plumage of this this chicken-hawk doesn't come close to that description.
From: Greg Hanisek <ghanisek at rep-am.com>
To: ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org; Amy Hopkins <hopkinsus at cs.com>
Sent: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 10:24 PM
Subject: Re: [CT Birds] mystery bird in Guilford
Given Amy's nice series of pictures I think it's quite clear that this bird is a juvenile Cooper's Hawk:
It lacks the bulk and powerful look of N Goshawk, which approaches a Red-tailed Hawk in size. Its very lightly streaked belly and clear undertail coverts differ from the heavy streaking Gos shows in this area; its has a short, weak supercillium compared to the more prominent one of N Gos; the white back mottling is fine for Cooper's, but the bird pictured lacks the boldly checkered appearance usually shown on the back of a Gos..
In more general terms, Gos is a shy forest bird (except when someone approaches its nest); Coop is a bold suburban feeder-raider. It's certainly not impossible to have a Gos show up in your yard but Coop is much, much more likely.
Juv. Gos is probably one of the most misidentified birds in places where it occurs. Actually, to be more accurate, large female Cooper's Hawks and imm Red-shouldered Hawks are often misidentified as Goshawks. I've even see a photo of Red-tailed eatig a gull that was called a Gos. One problem is that all of those species can show a supercillium, which is the probably the best-known Goshawk field mark. It's a good example why single field marks are seldom, if ever, good things to hang an ID on.
Voting for IDs probably isn't the right term, since there's a right and wrong answer.
----- Original Message ----- From: "Amy Hopkins" <hopkinsus at cs.com>
To: <ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org>
Sent: Tuesday, November 06, 2012 9:35 PM
Subject: [CT Birds] mystery bird in Guilford
> This accipiter was terrorizing my backyard birds yesterday. It's clearly a juvenile, but the question is whether it's a juvie Cooper's hawk or goshawk. I've shown it to a few birders, and it's evenly split in the "polls". Note the white supercilium and speckled back, making me lean towards goshawk. But the brown belly streaks don't go completely down, like a Cooper's. Maybe or maybe not zig-zag banding on tail. Unfortunately in the frontal views, the tail is obscured by a UV sticker used to keep birds from smacking into the glass (all photos taken through glass).
> The front of the birdhouse is 8" tall and the back 14".
> I keep old Christmas trees in the backyward to provide shelter to the little birds. This bird pounced down on one of them and was trying to pull the little hiding birds out!
> Let the voting begin!
> Amy Hopkins
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