Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Two Juvenile Cooper’s Hawks

1. Juvenile cooper's Juvenile Cooper’s 5-4-11 Andover Yard

These spring hawks have been giving me fits! A few days ago I posted photos of what I thought was a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk. Come to find out, I was mistaken. Hap in New Hope was the first to email me and cause me to question my ID. So I emailed the link to eBird asking them to take a look at the photos I posted. Meanwhile, this morning just as I was heading out the door to walk my dog this beauty flew into the backyard! I quickly returned the dog to the house and grabbed my camera instead. Hoping the hawk would not leave, I crept back outside and tried to hide alongside the house to get a photo.

2. J. Cooper's-kab Juvenile Cooper’s Hawk 5-4-11

One look through my bins convinced me this was a juvenile Cooper’s. The Long tubular body, fine dark streaking, and long tail convinced me. Plus, in this bird I see the more “capped” appearance that I expect from a Cooper’s hawk. I can also see that bit of a fine pale eyebrow developing. These are all things that I look for in a Cooper’s.

3. Juv Red-shouldered-kab Juvenile Cooper’s Hawk 4-24-11 Andover Yard

But this bird had me stumped. It was here late in the evening on April 24th. It looked chunkier, and redder to me. It’s back looked brown.

4. red shoulder-kab Juvenile Cooper’s hawk 4-24-11

When I first looked at it through the bins, it looked like it had a bit of a “bib,” then the fine streaking below, like the photo of the Juvenile Red-shouldered hawk I saw in my new Crossley ID Guide. It looked to me like it had pale areas above and below the eye giving the bird a more “studious look,” as Crossley mentioned.  I so wanted it to be  Red-shouldered Hawk, but wanting it does not make it so.

5. red-shouldered-kabWhen Hap from New Hope emailed me I started to question if I was correct. The trouble was, none of the bird guides I consulted showed this hawk from the back. All the guides show it either from the front or flying and I consulted Stokes, Sibley, Kaufman, and Crossley. My own photos were the only photos from the back showing that banded tail, which is what Hap pointed out. So, I sent the link to my post off to eBird and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology asking for help with the ID. Here is the response I received:

Your hawk is actually an immature (first-spring) Cooper's Hawk. The longer tail with a white tip, the fine streaking on the breast, the overall shape, and the lack of pale barring on the primaries are all good indicators of Cooper's over Red-shouldered. The overall size, breast pattern, and tail shape eliminate Sharp-shinned.


Marshall Iliff

eBird Project Leader


6. j cooper's-kab Juvenile Cooper’s Hawk 5-4-11

So, here are some good photos for comparison in case you ever find yourself with this same difficulty! I so appreciate all the help from Hap and from eBird. Though I have been birding for awhile I know I still have so much to learn, especially with these eastern birds.

7. j. red-shouldered-kab Juvenile Cooper’s hawk 4-24-11 Andover yard

Now I have to go amend my eBird record! Happy Birding everyone!

Note: I have been all over the east coast lately from Maine to Connecticut, into New Hampshire and back to Massachusetts again. I have more stories to tell than I have time to write. I am so sorry I have not been around to visit all of you, my best blogging friends. I will try! Right now my Mom is coming to visit me tomorrow and I have to find a bed for her to sleep on! I hope to visit you all soon and THANK YOU all for your visits to me and all the comments that you leave!


  1. Nice! It is always a joy to see such a beautiful bird!

  2. Great photos, Kathie! It is nice to learn more about the birds.

  3. Kathie, these are all excellent shots. You are always learning and teaching new bird tips. Enjoy your Mom visit.

  4. Hi Kathie

    These are really great photos. What a beautiful bird.


  5. Wonderful images, Kathie! I always have difficulty with the identification of raptors. It's nice to have some assistance. A joy to visit your blog!

  6. Great post Beautiful Coopers Hawk images.

  7. Its so nice that there are people willing to help and correct a wrong ID. Hap is Great, I have met him a very sweet man.
    Miss you!


Welcome to my nest! I hope you will enjoy spending time here with me and the birds. Thank you for your comments. I will try to get back to you as soon as I get back from counting more birds.