[CT Birds] Accipiter ID quiz - Answer

Arthur Shippee ashippee at snet.net
Sun Jul 20 20:26:10 EDT 2014


Is the size of the head alone diagnostic?  Could a SS have so forward-thrusting head?  

The other clues give us confidence, but it would seem the head is determinative — nu?  

Sent from my iPhone

> On Jul 20, 2014, at 7:47 PM, Joseph Cala via CTBirds <ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org> wrote:
> 
> 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!
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