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ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

North Eastern Indiana, US, what is this hawk (1 Viewer)

Joker9937

Well-known member
Stumbled across this hawk yesterday (04/10/20). He/she was perched approximately 5 feet off the ground near a mossy muck pond. While I tried to get some good photos (lots of branches between us) she dove off the branch, and did not spread her wings until she was fully midair.

I think the three choices, in order of likelihood, are: Red-shouldered, Red-tailed, or Cooper's.

I do not think she was a Cooper, unless immature, because she was not gray on her back. She was fluffed, so maybe that caused a false perception, but her legs did not look as long as I would expect.

I do not think she is a Red-tailed, because, to me, her beak looked small in relation to her face. Red-tails also seem to be a bit larger than this hawk. On top of that, it never seems to me that Red-tails hunt so close to the ground, but I am a rookie. Maybe, that is a false perception too.

I think she is a Red-shouldered, but possibly an immature example. It is hard to make out in the photos, but I am pretty sure there was solid banding on the underside of her tail.

Please, confirm or identify otherwise. Thank you! (Very sorry for the mass of branches, but that was all I had available...)
 

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tom baxter

Well-known member
It is a tough one. It is definitely either an immature red-tailed or red-shouldered hawk. I think you are correctly leaning towards red-shouldered for the following reasons:

1. The bill shows a lot of yellow
2. The wing coverts (middle of the folded wing) are mottled with pale edges and a pattern that is atypical of red-tailed hawk. A very good field mark for Light morph red-tailed hawks of any age is the white v shaped pattern on the scapulars (back feathers that meet the covert wing feathers). This is not visible in any of your photos of this bird.
3. The breast streaking is more dense and concentrated near the neck area as compared to typical red-tailed hawks that usually show large blotches of white in those areas with streaks being more concentrated across the belly and flanks.
 

ceasar

Well-known member
Agree with immature Red-shouldered Hawk. It has pale gray barring on its secondaries and a partially streaked breast similar to that shown on photographs of a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk at plates #219 and #220 in Wheeler's " RAPTORS of Eastern North America."

Bob
 
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Joker9937

Well-known member
You guys are great! Thank you!

Ok, now, not to pick the pepper out of the fly poop, but is it possible that it is a Sharp-shinned? I did not really consider that possibility, but now I am more curious.

The hawk in my pics seems to have a light tail underside with dark bands. So, when I looked at a few websites, I started wondering about a Sharp-shinned now.

Maybe I am more confused than curious, but what are your opinions on that part? (the tail, not my confusion)
 

D Halas

Well-known member
You guys are great! Thank you!

Ok, now, not to pick the pepper out of the fly poop, but is it possible that it is a Sharp-shinned? I did not really consider that possibility, but now I am more curious.

The hawk in my pics seems to have a light tail underside with dark bands. So, when I looked at a few websites, I started wondering about a Sharp-shinned now.

Maybe I am more confused than curious, but what are your opinions on that part? (the tail, not my confusion)

No, this is definitely a Red-shouldered Hawk. Sharp-shinned Hawks (and Cooper's Hawks as well) have substantially longer tails, and the bands on the tail are clearer and more regularly-spaced.
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
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