Fink Family Farm Bird List

Fink Family Farm Bird List

The only list I faithfully keep is a list of all the birds seen on our farm since we moved here in 1977. I thought it would be fun to ad...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Hawk ID HELP!!

While wandering through my old photos from this year, I came across this photo of what I thought at the time was a Cooper's Hawk, which we see here frequently. But now, looking at the photo, I notice that it has uneven tail bands. Could this be a young Goshawk?? Please comment here or email Thank you!!!

...Okay, the votes are in. And all three accipiters were named. However, several people gave good reasons why it is *not* a Goshawk. Shawneen Finnegan said:
"Goshawks, both adults and young birds, are more robust, have large pale superciliums that are often flared behind the eye, and the underpart streaking extends down onto the leg feathers and on the belly to the undertail coverts."

The moral of the story is, don't rely on one field mark. All accipiters, I've learned, can have uneven tail banding on the ventral side, depending on feather molt and positioning.

This photo was taken in February. According to Brian Wheeler's book, "Raptors of Western North America", a young Cooper's Hawk will have eye color more yellow (as in this photo) than the other two accipiters. But the most telling difference between Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawks is the shape of the head. Coops tend to have flat heads with no abrupt forehead.

I had no doubt when I took the photo that this was a Cooper's Hawk, so I most likely had very good looks at the bird from several angles, may have heard it vocalize and likely saw it fly. Only after looking at the photo many months later, did I question that identification... on the basis of one poorly understood field mark... the unevenly banded tail. Live and learn.

Thanks to all who helped educate me today.

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