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Sharp-shinned or Coopers Hawk? Reno NV USA (1 Viewer)


Well-known member
I had a hawk visit our backyard feeders yesterday scattering all of the other birds. I couldn't get a good sense of how big it was but I did take quite a few photos to try to figure out whether it was a Sharp-shinned or a Cooper's Hawk. It seems to have characteristics described for both juvenile hawks, i.e., the tail feathers appear to be of equal length (SSH) but it's hard to tell from the photos how big his feet are. His body doesn't appear to be widest at the shoulder (SSH), is it more barrel shaped (CH)? Is his head large or small? Is it's neck long or short? Are those “rufous strips that extend down the lower belly (SSH) or very thin, dark streaks that fad away on the lower belly (CH)”? As you can see, I'm very conflicted. Any help greatly appreciated. Kathy

Sharp-shinned Hawk crop.jpg Sharp-shinned Hawk4 crop.jpg Sharp-shinned Hawk5 crop.jpg Sharp-shinned Hawk10 crop.jpg

D Halas

Well-known member
It's a Cooper's Hawk, and if you look closely at the photos where it's facing forward, the tail feathers clearly vary in length. Because of the way the feathers lie, that field mark doesn't work for views from behind.

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