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Cooper's or Sharp-Shinned in Waterloo, Ontario. (1 Viewer)

chipster454

Active member
I always struggle identifying Cooper's and Sharp-Shinned hawks. I was leaning towards juvenile Cooper's Hawk for this bird, but the Merlin bird app is suggesting Sharp-Shinned. What do you guys think?
 

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The Bird Nuts

Birding Duo
Streaked breast = Juv Coopers

Barred breast = juvenile SHHA never streaked.
There are plenty of young Sharpies with distinct streaks, though they tend to be more blotchy and more orange-colored and combined with barring on the flanks.
 
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Deb Burhinus

Used to be well known! 😎
Europe
There are plenty of young Sharpies with distinct streaks, though they tend to be more blotchy and more orange-colored and combined with barring on the flanks.
That’s a little pedantic - I was referring to the overall breast and belly pattern. Juvenile Sharp-shinned are never completely streaked and the streaking (which is somewhat variable) is concentrated in the chin and upper breast - the rest of the body is patterned with tear-shaped and leaf shaped spotting right throught the chest and down to the undertail coverts with some wide bars on the flanks (not streaks!).

Compare to juvenile Coopers that is streaked right the way from the upper breast through to the lower belly.

See here

Rather like a juvenile Northern Goshawk v Eurasian Sparrowhawk
 
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The Bird Nuts

Birding Duo
That’s a little pedantic - I was referring to the overall breast and belly pattern. Juvenile Sharp-shinned are never completely streaked and the streaking (which is somewhat variable) is concentrated in the chin and upper breast - the rest of the body is patterned with tear-shaped and leaf shaped spotting right throught the chest and down to the undertail coverts with some wide bars on the flanks (not streaks!).

Compare to juvenile Coopers that is streaked right the way from the upper breast through to the lower belly.

See here
Your wording implied that they never have streaks. I was just trying to make it clear that a streaked breast doesn't necessarily mean it's a Cooper's. And I should add that a lot of new birders think the breast includes the belly.
 

Deb Burhinus

Used to be well known! 😎
Europe
Your wording implied that they never have streaks. I was just trying to make it clear that a streaked breast doesn't necessarily mean it's a Cooper's. And I should add that a lot of new birders think the breast includes the belly.
It is clearly a Cooper‘s Bird Nuts, you are over complicating it - the belly streaks as well as the breast and upper breast streaks can be seen in the first image - that is what I am referring to. In ‘description terms’ Sharp-shinned are referred to as having ‘barred breasts’ in juvenile plumage, Cooper’s ‘streaked breasts’ regardless of a bit of admix under the chin and at the top of the breast.

For people learning to bird the difference, this is a good descriptive distinction to get under the belt.
 

The Bird Nuts

Birding Duo
It is clearly a Cooper‘s Bird Nuts, you are over complicating it - the belly streaks as well as the breast and upper breast streaks can be seen in the first image - that is what I am referring to. In ‘description terms’ Sharp-shinned are referred to as having ‘barred breasts’ in juvenile plumage, Cooper’s ‘streaked breasts’ regardless of a bit of admix under the chin and at the top of the breast.

For people learning to bird the difference, this is a good descriptive distinction to get under the belt.
And I wasn't saying that it wasn't a Cooper's. I agree, it is absolutely a Cooper's. I did not mean to make things more complicated or start an argument. I'm sorry and I understand why you would react that way.
 

Deb Burhinus

Used to be well known! 😎
Europe
And I wasn't saying that it wasn't a Cooper's. I agree, it is absolutely a Cooper's. I did not mean to make things more complicated or start an argument. I'm sorry and I understand why you would react that way.
It’s not a problem - you are not incorrect but I was just trying to keep things simple! 😉
 

Butty

Well-known member
Barred breast = juvenile SHHA never streaked.
In ‘description terms’ Sharp-shinned are referred to as having ‘barred breasts’ in juvenile plumage
In 'any terms' this is untrue, and it's thus misleading. At the very least it's incorrect and misleading usage of the term 'barred'.
See >> https://search.macaulaylibrary.org/...rating_rank_desc&q=Sharp-shinned Hawk&age=i,j

The only consistent (or as consistent as anything gets for this species-pair) and worthwhile distinction between the underparts of immatures of these two species is that Cooper's hawk has the streaking on the centre of the lower belly markedly finer than it is higher up on the underparts; this is not so on sharp-shinned hawk.
 

Deb Burhinus

Used to be well known! 😎
Europe
The only consistent (or as consistent as anything gets for this species-pair) and worthwhile distinction between the underparts of immatures of these two species is that Cooper's hawk has the streaking on the centre of the lower belly markedly finer than it is higher up on the underparts; this is not so on sharp-shinned hawk.
Then are we talking semantics? Because I wouldn’t describe the tear/leaf shaped blobs on the lower chest and belly of a juv SSHA as ‘streaks’ even though they be arranged in a loose linear pattern - the ’barred’ reference is to the side of the flanks which can be seen here. But I agree the ‘barred’ does not refer to the upper chest and my post is misleading.




107DAED2-0003-45C8-A642-7C05A4FD3B94.jpeg
 
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Butty

Well-known member
are we talking semantics
If you mean 'definitions', yes. They're a crucial part of how we describe birds' plumages to each other.

I wouldn’t describe the tear/leaf shaped blobs on the lower chest and belly of a juv SSHA as ‘streaks’ even though they be arranged in a loose linear pattern
They would be well described as 'a loose vertical linear pattern of tear/leaf shaped blobs on the lower chest and belly' - but 'barred' is fundamentally wrong and thus misleading.

the ’barred’ reference is to the side of the flanks
Thanks for clearing that up. You previously said breast (twice), which is entirely different.
 

Butty

Well-known member
But I agree the ‘barred’ does not refer to the upper chest and my post is misleading.
I see now that you added this sentence to your final para quite some time after you initially posted your last comment, and while I was writing my reply - and thus my last comment does not take account of it. Thanks again for clarifying.
 

syncrasy

Well-known member
This thread almost makes me long for less-controversial topics like COVID restrictions and mask mandates.

For what it's worth, two of the most respected North American field guides, Peterson and Sibley, use the term "streaks" to describe the markings on immature birds' underparts:

Peterson: Sharp-shinned is "thickly streaked" while Cooper's is "more finely streaked" (p. 114, 1st ed.)
Sibley: Sharp-shinned has "course brown streaks" while Cooper's has "thin, dark streaks" (p. 128, 2nd ed.)
 
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