When this bird appeared on the lawn where I feed birds in the morning (before I had fed), I had no doubt it was a large, juvenile, female (because of size) Cooper's Hawk. But as I took photos, I noticed a white supercilium and wondered if it could be a young Goshawk. But then I noticed very reddish streaks on the side and thought it must be a 2nd year Cooper's just getting its adult plumage. Likewise there appears some brown feathers in the wing as though it's in the middle of a molt. The eye is still yellow, not red, so it has to be a young bird. But looking at the photos, if I didn't know how big it was, I'd call it a Sharp-shinned Hawk because of head shape and skinny legs and that light supercilium and what look like coarse, not fine, brown belly streaks. But if this is a Sharpie, it's the world's biggest... or I'm a lousy judge of size... which is entirely possible. I would appreciate help in telling me where I'm going wrong.
Alas, only one person replied. Dick Musser says it looks like a Sharp-shinned Hawk to him and thinks it was smaller than I thought. He suggested I go out and try to measure against something in the background. So I did and he is likely correct. The bird would have been, near as I can figure, about 8 inches tall. None of the guidebooks talk about how "tall" a bird is, just their wingspread. I hoped this bird would return so I could get a better look but no such luck.
More OBOLers have since checked in with Sharpie and varying head to tail measurements (from various guidebooks). From those I *should* be able to estimate height of my bird. So it's a Sharpie and I'm lousy at size estimates. Jays sit over in that spot every day eating grain and look about half the size that hawk looked to me. Why, I'll never know.
A falconer sent this post with heights. "About 8 inches would be right for a Male Sharpie, with the females a bit
bigger. I had a female that hunted at 120 grams ( 4.25 oz ). I have had
male Coopers that weighed no more than 7 ounces, but was still about a
foot tall, and females that weighed up to 21 oz's although 12 to 16 for
females would be normal. They would be in the 14 inch range, or there
about. I judge the species by the square tail on a Sharpie if its
flying, and the head and legs if its sitting. A coopers has a rather
longer flat head, and a rounded tail. ( the height measurements would
be standing on a perch and not counting their tail)."
So not only was my bird not a big female Cooper's... it was a little male Sharpie!