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Cooper's or Sharp-Shinned? WV, USA (1 Viewer)


Well-known member
Hi everyone! Yes, I'm still alive, and I hope you all are well! I had Internet connection problems for several months, which were very time-consuming, so I have not had time to post until now.

I live in the US, in eastern West Virginia, just south of Cumberland, Maryland, which is in western Maryland. I first sighted this hawk this morning, February 14th, while standing in my driveway. At the time, it was perched on a rather distant tree with an American Crow perched on a branch just above it. From a distance through binoculars, it looked like a blob of white, but I noticed that it was approximately the same height as the Crow. Unfortunately, I did not get a photo at that time.

However, a little later this morning, I saw the same hawk, this time on a slightly closer tree. I was able to approach the hawk and got a number of shots of it. The air temperature was around 19 F, and it was slightly breezy.

I believe I got a glimpse of this bird, or at least one that looked similar to it, a few weeks ago as I stepped out onto my porch and saw the bird perching on the tree where I have both a suet feeder and a seed feeder hanging. But the bird took flight as soon as it saw me; so I was unable to study it through binoculars.

Attached is one of the shots from this morning. At first I was torn between a juvenile Sharp-Shinned Hawk and a juvenile Cooper's Hawk. After a little research, I am thinking it is probably a juvenile Cooper's Hawk. Any thoughts, anyone? I would welcome all opinions.

I will be listing this bird in my checklist for this morning for the Great Backyard Bird Count. If I am unable to identify it, I am thinking of just listing it as "Accipiter species".

Many thanks in advance!



  • cooper's-juvenile-maybe-2-14-16-2.jpg
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The graduated length tail feathers are a slam-dunk mark for Cooper's Hawk. Also, the thin brown stripes on the underside that don't go all the way down the belly are very suggestive for Cooper's, just not as definitive as the tail feathers.
Thank you, Randy, fugl, Jeff, and ceasar, so very much! You all are terrific, and such fast responses! This is a lifer for me, so I will add it to my list. I had read as much as I could about field marks, size, etc., but didn't know about the graduated tail feathers. Thank you again!
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