Saturday, November 30, 2013
I had no doubt when I saw this bird right outside our back door that it was an adult Cooper's Hawk, in spite of the indented tail. It was crow sized, had the sloping head I associate with Cooper's, capped look. The margin of the tail appeared white, not dusky.
Then I looked at the photos. How could any "shins" be sharper than these???
Someone please tell me what this bird is and why. I thought I had finally mastered Accipiters --- at least those sitting still a few feet from me --- but apparently not.
Postscript: the wonderful people at Oregon Birders OnLine have come through with the definitive word: it's a Sharpie. They each had different reasons, however. Charles Gates says sharp shins and eye position (closer to the middle of the head in a Sharpie, which has a smaller head), Pamela Johnston relied on head size. Karen Saxton gave this great website: http://birding.about.com/od/identifyingbirds/a/coopersorsharpshinned.htm
But Karen's suggestion to measure the branch was the most conclusive for me. I ran outside and measured: 2 inches. Ergo the hawk could only have been 10 inches tall (or slightly more when not scrunched down digesting a meal, the remains of which are in its talons). That's Sharp-shin size, not Cooper size. I guess when a bird is close to you, it looks bigger than when it is farther away. Duh.