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Old Nov 17, 2004, 11:36 AM   #1
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Please help me identify this hawk... I shot this through a dirty kitchen window last spring, and, have had little success in identifying it... shot with a Canon 10D and a Canon 70-300 IS USM... many thanks in advance
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Old Nov 17, 2004, 11:37 AM   #2
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another bluejay...
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Old Nov 17, 2004, 11:38 AM   #3
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lots of little birds feeding...
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Old Nov 17, 2004, 11:39 AM   #4
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and a white-breasted sparrow...


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Old Nov 17, 2004, 12:09 PM   #5
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Hi Gene - you've been busy going to the birds I see Nice shots.

The hawk id will have to wait until I get home and can consult my field guides. The "little" birds are House Finches and the "white-breasted" sparrow is called a White-Throated Sparrow. There you go...
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Old Nov 17, 2004, 1:09 PM   #6
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Geoffs - many thanks for the reply - I'm looking forward to identifying the hawk - I think it's some kind of field hawk, I saw one like this onethis morning on my way in to work, it had just killed a blackbird and was preparing for flight - I've asked several 'experts' around here about its identity as well as consulting my bird books, but, can't get a positive id - so, if you would be as so kind, I'd really appreciate a knowledgeable stab at iding the hawk - as for as mislabeling the white-throated sparrow, that's a senior moment on my part - I have my own homemade blind set up in the backyard for viewing/photographing the small birds that come into my yard, and, enjoy that aspect of photography, even though I'm not too good at it, at least, as my wife says 'it keeps you out of trouble' - thanks again and take care - Gene
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Old Nov 17, 2004, 7:22 PM   #7
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You don't say what part of the world/country you are from. That will make a HUGE difference in figuring this out. Let me think out loud here.

I was going to guess merlin, because of the size and the hunting of the blackbird. But that looks tail is too long and the head pattern isn't right. Here is a picture of a merlin for reference that I took:
http://esmith.marx7.org/web_posts/merlin_lunch1.jpg

And I don't like those white spots on the back either. Let me get my photographic guide to north american rapters.

Many raptors have yellow eyes only when they are immature. It's not true of all, but it is true of many in this size, including Coopers & Sharp-shinned.

A quick skim through the book makes me think it's one of these:
Coopers, Sharp-shinned, Grey Hawk
Let me check them out in more detail.
Coopers:
Average length: 15 (male) 18 (female) inches
Wingspan: 29 (male) 33 (female) inches
Well, the outer wing feathers are shorter than the inner, which is a plus. It has a white band on the end of the tail, but if this was taken in spring then this is usually gone by then.
But the back should be browner (did you play with the contrast?), a rounded tail (that looks more square to me), the head a bit more squared off, the cere (skin above the beak) shouldn't be there or at least should be black. That last one + the tail shape could be a killer.

Sharp-Shinned:
Average length: 10 (male) 12 (Female) inches
Wingspan: 21 (male) 25 (female) inches
Tail is long and white tipped. And it's more squared off. The immatures have some white on the back. The eye is that color and the Cere is that color (although that is a lot of it.) The tail banding is good too. The white on the neck is good. The black tip of the beak is good too.
The head pattern is both a plus and minus. They can have what is called a superciliary line (the line above the eye) but that looks different (white/grey and "smoother" while the picture I have shows it sharper and white/brown.)

This is my bet.

Grey Hawk (note I've never seen one of these in the wild):
Average length: 17 inches
Wingspan: 34 inches
The long tail is good, as are the bands. But there should be more of them, which is bad (5+ of them.) The white superciliary line is a big plus, but the greater colverts (part of the wing in that lower right corner where there are no white marks) should be more striped.

I originally included this because of the long tail, but so many things are wrong, I'm just going to stop there.

So my guess is that it's an immature sharp-shinned hawk. Around where I live, this is a great find. Sharpies are on the decline here. The guess is that starlings are stealing nesting sites (because they nest earlier than most birds.) It's really kinda sad, as I'd much rather have a sharpe than a starling.

For more info, check out this page:
http://www.birds.cornell.edu/program...nned_Hawk.html

So Geoffs (a better birder than me) what do you think?

Eric
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Old Nov 17, 2004, 8:01 PM   #8
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That was a pretty good analysis, Eric. Then, let me state that when it comes to animal id requests, but birds in particular, it really helps the people trying to satisfy the request if the requestor says when and where the picture was taken. Given that we don't have that info...

To me, the bird seems to be a juvenile accipiter. I think that I might agree with Eric that it is a Sharp-Shinned but all my field guides basically state the warning that distinguishing one species of accipiter from another can often be difficult in the absence of sufficient identifying clues. We sure have that situation here.

I did a simple investigation. The bird is perched on some sort of framework (yard awning or something like that?) that looks to be made up of those hollow metal pipes that insert into each other. I made the assumption that they are probably an inch or perhaps a bit more in diameter. Then, I brought this picture into Photoshop and displayed a grid on it that was sized so that each grid cell was the same width as the thickness of the frame pipe. It was a simple matter to count how many grid cells the bird spanned. It turns out that the bird spans at least 18 cells which, if the frame is made up of pipe 1" in diameter, would mean the bird is at least 18" long from tip of tail to top of head.

What does that mean? Well... too big for a Sharpie. But it would be in the range of a Cooper's or small Goshawk. Of the two, the markings of this bird align more with the markings of a Goshawk, although those large white splotches on the back really bug me too. Goshawks are not nearly as common so that makes me a bit suspicious.

So, Gene, can you tell us what the diameter of those frame pipes are? Also, where and when this picture was taken?
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Old Nov 17, 2004, 9:52 PM   #9
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Hi guys,

If you don't mind my 2cents, It looks like it's perched on a lawn mower handle and I am also pretty sure it is a sharp-shinned hawk.
I didn't mean to butt in but, it only cost me 2 cents.

a fellow raptor lover,
smac
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Old Nov 17, 2004, 11:16 PM   #10
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smac,
You aren't butting in. It's discussions like this that make me a better ID'er. I like this stuff wether I'm right or wrong. Heck, I learned stuff just by doing my own analysis. I've never really studied those two birds that closely before.

Geoffs
I agree, many of the obvious signs aren't there because of the angle/side of the shot. Makes it a bit more of a challenge! (or a headache, depending on your mood.)

My guess is that that bar isn't 1 inch across, but if it is, then at 18", that isn't a sharpie.

The only picture I have of a juv. Goshawk (another bird I've never seen) doesn't fit this body size at all. They seems much more elongated than this... of course, body angle can mess that up. Another strike against it is this quote from A Photographic Guide to North American Raptors:
Quote:
Juveniles have heavily mottled brown back and upperwing coverts, heavily streaked belly and undertail coverts, and irregular tail bands with white hilights between bands. Juveniles' eyes are yellow.
The white between the bands isn't there on the tail. Contrast tweeks could have darkened the back from the lighter brown, so that is explainable.

The head is a bit too rounded, but that could be an artifact of head angle.

The beak and Cere is correct, though. And the tail length looks reasonable. I ruled it out based on size in my initial analysis.

So its possible... I don't think that is what it is, but it certainly is possible if I'm off on the size.

Eric
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