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Old Monday 3rd March 2008, 00:28   #1
rjackb
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Hawk ID, Central Florida, USA

This bird just happened to land in a tree near me as I was out taking photos today. It seemed smaller than most hawks I've seen but it's hard to judge size without anything to compare it to. Sorry about the quality of the second photo but I included it in case it might help to have a view from the back.
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Old Monday 3rd March 2008, 00:32   #2
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It's a juvenile Sharp-shinned Hawk.
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Old Monday 3rd March 2008, 00:39   #3
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i agree, squared off tail
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Old Monday 3rd March 2008, 00:53   #4
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I think its a small male Cooper's Hawk. Notice the streaked underparts, fine dark streaks, as opposed to blotchy more red-brown streaks that should be shown by a Sharpie, plus it just doesnt have the tiny-headed look of a Sharpie. Also, the tail has a white tip, something shown by Coops. Just my two cents.
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Old Monday 3rd March 2008, 04:15   #5
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Go along with Coopers. Same reasons as Goshawk227 plus tarsi look too big for a sharp-shin.
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Old Monday 3rd March 2008, 04:21   #6
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Sharp-shinned or Cooper's?

Plate 187 of Brian Wheeler's "Raptors of Eastern North America" on page 181 (a juvenile, male Cooper's Hawk) does look a lot like my first photo--especially the breast markings which appear to me to be slightly different from the Sharp-shinned Hawk. How does one distinguish between a Sharp-shinned and Cooper's Hawk when they appear to me to be almost identical except for size in the bird books? And how do you distinguish size when you have nothing to compare against?

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Old Monday 3rd March 2008, 05:42   #7
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Thin dark stripes, I would say juvenile Coopers.
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Old Monday 3rd March 2008, 06:04   #8
ceasar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rjackb View Post
Plate 187 of Brian Wheeler's "Raptors of Eastern North America" on page 181 (a juvenile, male Cooper's Hawk) does look a lot like my first photo--especially the breast markings which appear to me to be slightly different from the Sharp-shinned Hawk. How does one distinguish between a Sharp-shinned and Cooper's Hawk when they appear to me to be almost identical except for size in the bird books? And how do you distinguish size when you have nothing to compare against?

Thanks,
Jack
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Old Monday 3rd March 2008, 13:08   #9
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Hi, rjackb, the accipiters (Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper's Hawk and Goshawk) can be difficult to sort out a lot of times, as you can see from a thread I posted here not too long ago. Even very experienced birders can not seem to agree on what the identification of a particular bird might be!

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Old Monday 3rd March 2008, 13:10   #10
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My initial reaction was that it is a Sharp-shinned Hawk.
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Old Monday 3rd March 2008, 13:35   #11
ceasar
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Jack
Brian Wheeler's book, which you cited, is an excellent reference. Another very good one on distinguishing among Accipiters is "IDENTIFY YOURSELF," "The 50 Most Common Birding Identification Challenges" by Bill Thompson III, Houghton Mifflin Co. ISBN 0-618-51469-4, paperback, $19.95
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Old Monday 3rd March 2008, 21:33   #12
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Are the tarsi really too thick for Sharp-shinned?

http://www.geocities.com/tgrey41/Pag...persHawkp.html
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Old Monday 3rd March 2008, 22:31   #13
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My initial reaction was sharp-shinned, especially the second photo. But then the breast streaking made me think, heavily marked coopers (notice it goes right down between the medium sized legs), but then the Wheeler book mentioned above shows a sharp-shinned with what he calls "narrowly streaked type underparts"...arghhh.

The tail in the second photo looks sharpie at first (three feathers same length), but then I noticed a forth feather which appears to end about 3/4 the way down on the left side of the tail....more arghhh.

So, breast streaking and leg size are both in between, the narrow white tip is ok for either, the tail is uncertain, the eyes seem middle of head, but the head looks big, so I firmly undecided. But if I had to cast a vote my overall impression is small male coopers.

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Old Tuesday 4th March 2008, 01:03   #14
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Larger, Enhanced Photos

In case it might help, I tried enhancing the photos slightly and made them higher resolution. It also occurred to me that I could measure the limb that the hawk was perched on in the first photo and then calculate a fairly accurate size for the bird.

Thanks for the IDs, comments, and tips so far. I love this website not only for the aforementioned usefulness but also the civility of the participants.

The tally so far is 3 Sharpies, 3 Coops, and 2 wavering Coops.
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Old Tuesday 4th March 2008, 02:43   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rjackb View Post
The tally so far is 3 Sharpies, 3 Coops, and 2 wavering Coops.
That's a tough one!. But if I had to say one way or the other, my vote (FWIW) would be for female Sharpie, mainly because of the breast streaking.
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Old Tuesday 4th March 2008, 09:44   #16
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Originally Posted by Sputnik1089 View Post
i agree [with Sharpie], squared off tail
Be careful. "Squared-off tail" is a field mark that stems from relative length of rectrices (tail feathers), and can only be evaluated in flight, or maybe with an undertail glance. Coops' tails are said to be "rounded-off" because they have graduated rectrices, that is, the outer ones are shorter, giving a rounded like appearance in flight. Perched, however, these graduated feathers are hidden in the undertail and a view like this of the back of the tail can be misleading if the "squared-off" vs. "rounded-off" field mark isn't applied correctly.

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That's a tough one!. But if I had to say one way or the other, my vote (FWIW) would be for female Sharpie, mainly because of the breast streaking.
It's a 1st year bird, and as far as I know there is no way to accurately sex it from this photo (besides perhaps size comparison in the field, which we have absolutely no grounds to evaluate seeing that there's nothing in the photo to compare it to).

Before I cast my vote, I want to post a general note about breast-streaking. I feel like it is being over-emphasized in this thread. Personally, I do not weigh it too much into my analysis, because both species are variable.

Here are some 1st year Sharpies with dark, thin breast-streaking (contrary to the "expected" light brown, tear-drop shaped streaks):
http://www.sdgfp.info/Wildlife/Diver...sharpshin3.JPG (P.S. check out that great undertail view showing the equally lengthed rectrices)
http://www.birdforum.net/gallery/sho...p?photo=128277
http://adampaul.files.wordpress.com/...0/img_4540.jpg
http://canadabirdingphotography.com/...1/dsc_6867.jpg (this is a great one)
http://www.birdforum.net/gallery/sho...p?photo=162814

And here are some 1st year Coops with lighter, wider breast-streaks (contrary to the "expected" thin, dark brown streaks):
http://www.birdforum.net/gallery/sho...p?photo=175307
http://www.birdforum.net/gallery/sho...p?photo=178072
http://www.birdforum.net/gallery/sho...p?photo=167779
http://www.birdforum.net/gallery/sho...p?photo=170780
http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1252/...bc2b42f1ab.jpg
http://www.themodernapprentice.com/coopers_immature.jpg
http://picasaweb.google.com/boehmest...35570300977666
http://www.ojaigarden.com/images/cooper-mama-web.jpg

Now, as for my vote. Initially I was thinking Sharpie. I glanced at the tarsi, they seemed thin, but things just weren't adding up. I went back to compare Coop and Sharpie tarsi in photos and felt turned around a bit - I've been away from both the site and birding in general for a while just because I've had so much going on this year, so I needed to refresh my Accipiter analysis.

So I reached the point where I found the tarsi on this bird to be acceptable for a Coop. We have some weird angles for the head, but I just can't seem to make it nice and rounded as I'd like on a Sharpie. Then there's the issue of the tail. Now Sputnik, I apologize in advance for pulling a 180 here from what I said earlier in my post. USUALLY the back view of an Accipiter tail is fruitless as far as determining if the rectrices are graduated or not. But in this second shot, I believe I see a shorter outer tail feather sticking out to the left (it's mostly tucked away in the undertail - see attached photo. EDIT: Scott, I just reread the thread and saw you noticed this too ).

I'm open to discussion on these issues (tarsi, head-shape, tail feather), but I feel good about Coop.
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