[CT Birds] Goshawk caution follow-up

Steve Mayo and Rebecca Horowitz rsdmayo at sbcglobal.net
Thu May 8 22:59:52 EDT 2014


You (and Paul Carrier) have provided exceptional guidance.

At Lighthouse Park, I've seen many thousands of Sharp-shinned and Cooper's Hawks.  I've seen very, very, very few Northern Goshawks. But when it comes to a juvenile Northern Goshawk ID, and very much like obscenity and fine art, "I know it when I see it."  The enormity, stockiness, buteo-like shape and flight pattern, fat/tubular lower body, overall darkness and scaliness, etc. is obvious.  

I agree that fleeting glimpses of any raptor, shooting through the woods, is a very tough call.  But my vote for the toughest accipiter ID challenge is still:  female Sharp-shinned vs male Cooper's Hawk.  Flying, perched, standing-on-its-head, dolphin plank yoga pose - whatever. The small and medium accipiters are tough.  I'm sure daily, down at Lighthouse in the autumn, I blow that ID.  And there are plenty of folks standing right beside me, that would agree with that statement!

Steve Mayo

 From: joseph cala <joseph.e.cala at gmail.com>
To: ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org 
Sent: Thursday, May 8, 2014 9:56 PM
Subject: [CT Birds] Goshawk caution follow-up


Please bear with me while I add a few more thoughts now that I'm actually
in front of a computer and can type--instead of pecking away at a phone

I cannot stress enough how incredibly rare Goshawks are at backyard
feeders.  Shortly after Roy was kind enough to pass along my post I
received an email that had been passed along with someone looking for
confirmation on their Goshawk.

The bird in question was in fact a juvenile Cooper's Hawk, with a
substantial supercilium -- though it was rather buffy -- and had very thin
breast streaking.  Participating on several ID forums I understand how
confusing this field mark is as almost all of the field guides do a poor
job in showing how often Cooper's Hawk show a size-able whitish supercilium
-- in fact the 1st edition Sibley doesn't show it at all.

I caution everyone when attempting to use a noticeable white supercilium
when attempting to separate juvenile Cooper's and Goshawks.  There are many
other field marks that are easier to use--but in the case of all accipiter
ID's you're much safer using a cumulative field mark approach when IDing to
species--as opposed to relying on just one field mark.

I'd strongly suggest getting a 2nd opinion on any backyard feeder hawk that
you think may be a Goshawk before submitting to ebird or reporting as I'm
sure the sighting will be flagged and you'll be asked for more
information.  We have quite a few very knowledgeable hawk folks on this
list that I'm sure would be more than happy to take a look at any photos
for clarification purposes -- I know I certainly would!

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