[CT Birds] Accipiter ID quiz - Answer

Joseph Cala joseph.e.cala at gmail.com
Sun Jul 20 19:47:06 EDT 2014


All-

Only received a few responses (and see a few more on the forum) but
hopefully more of you were able to take a look at the pictures and
formulate an ID.

I specifically picked this bird because it represents probably the most
mis-ID'd hawk there is out there.  The whole accipiter complex can be
difficult (remember the recent backyard Goshawk reports/pics that all
turned out to be Cooper's Hawks) but the most challenging in that complex
by far is male Cooper's Hawks and female Sharp-shinned Hawks.

Most hawk watch folks or savvy birders can instantly recognize a female
Cooper's Hawk or male Sharp-shinned Hawk--the differences in flight and
size are pretty unmistakable.  Things become infinitely more difficult when
it's the other way around -- as male Cooper's can be almost as small as
female Sharp-shinned with just a couple of inches in overlap--obvious in
the hand, not in the field.

In any event, the bird in question is in fact a male Cooper's Hawk.  The
larger head, unstreaked throat, sparse thin breast streaks that fade
towards the tail all point towards that ID.  I know the tail is a major
point of contention - it helps to note that the bird is currently in molt
which is making the tail appear much more Sharp-shinned like than the
normal graduated/rounded Cooper's tail.

The wings and profile of the bird in the 1st picture definitely appear
Sharp-shinned at first glance, but understand that the bird is in a 'wing
down-flap' and makes those wings appear much stockier than they are --
which you can see in the 2nd picture for comparison's sake.  The 2nd photo
shows less stocky, and much longer wings.

Hope everyone enjoyed the photos!



More information about the CTBirds mailing list