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.
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.
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.
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.
When 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.
eBird Project Leader
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.
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!