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Old Oct 18, 2005, 7:23 PM   #1
djb
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To all of you experts can you ID this hawk for me. I think it's a female Northern Harrier. Someone told me it may be a Sharp Shinned hawk. Sorry it isn't the best shot as it was taken at a really long distance and it was moving quite fast. thanx!!

dennis


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Old Oct 19, 2005, 8:34 AM   #2
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djb wrote:
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To all of you experts can you ID this hawk for me. I think it's a female Northern Harrier. Someone told me it may be a Sharp Shinned hawk. Sorry it isn't the best shot as it was taken at a really long distance and it was moving quite fast. thanx!!

dennis

How big was this Hawk? Doesn't look like a Marsh hawk (Northern Harrier).

Dave
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Old Oct 19, 2005, 6:40 PM   #3
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dave these hawks are fairly small. I don't think the wingspan is much more than 20-25 inches, if that. Also the only place i see them is when they are flying like little rockets and occaisionally do a glide and then back to fast flight. Harriers tend to do low flying and are usually found around busshes at rivers and fields, as far as i recall.

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Old Oct 19, 2005, 7:04 PM   #4
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dave these hawks are fairly small. I don't think the wingspan is much more than 20-25 inches, if that. Also the only place i see them is when they are flying like little rockets and occaisionally do a glide and then back to fast flight. Harriers tend to do low flying and are usually found around busshes at rivers and fields, as far as i recall.

dennis
Well, I'm pretty sure that what you are seeing is a Merlin. They're migrating now, and I have a whole slew of images I just took. I counted 8 pairs in one small part of Brooklyn. Seeing them in pairs is a migration phenomena, because while they, like most Hawks mate for life, they don't normally hunt together.

I also will soon post images of a female Marsh Hawk (the now "correct" name is Northern Harrier, so don't regard my comments as a correction.. )

But these Marsh Hawks migrate TOO Brooklyn and will spend the Winter.

I had an awesome day yesterday, and can only hope tomorrow will be as good...

Dave
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Old Oct 20, 2005, 7:26 AM   #5
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This image seems to lack the facial disks (well, not actually, but very similar to facial disks) that a northern harrier should have. Also, I don't believe they have so well defined a "shoulder" in the wing. The front of the wing should, I believe, be straighter.

The baring (stripes going the length of the bird) shouldn't be there on the body if this was a harrier. The body should be much more of a softer brown, with a few stray marks.

The length of the tail makes me think this isn't a merlin. I don't have my copy of "a photographic guide to North American Raptors" to be sure, but from my memory they don't have it.

My guess is either a coopers hawk or a sharp shinned hawk. Both are usually rather hard to tell apart, having talked with leading experts in the field of studying those birds. By body size, I would lean towards a sharp shinned, as the coopers are larger, but this isn't the best way to decide. The male Coopers are nearly the same size as the female sharp shinned.

As a side note, since you are in Mass, it is more likely to be a Coopers. Sharpies are on the decline here (sigh.)

Either way, nice flight photo! Both types of hawk move very fast and are generally difficult to get a good flight shot of.

Eric
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Old Oct 20, 2005, 1:38 PM   #6
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eric s wrote:
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This image seems to lack the facial disks (well, not actually, but very similar to facial disks) that a northern harrier should have. Also, I don't believe they have so well defined a "shoulder" in the wing. The front of the wing should, I believe, be straighter.

The baring (stripes going the length of the bird) shouldn't be there on the body if this was a harrier. The body should be much more of a softer brown, with a few stray marks.

The length of the tail makes me think this isn't a merlin. I don't have my copy of "a photographic guide to North American Raptors" to be sure, but from my memory they don't have it.

My guess is either a coopers hawk or a sharp shinned hawk. Both are usually rather hard to tell apart, having talked with leading experts in the field of studying those birds. By body size, I would lean towards a sharp shinned, as the coopers are larger, but this isn't the best way to decide. The male Coopers are nearly the same size as the female sharp shinned.

As a side note, since you are in Mass, it is more likely to be a Coopers. Sharpies are on the decline here (sigh.)

Either way, nice flight photo! Both types of hawk move very fast and are generally difficult to get a good flight shot of.

Eric
It's a Merlin. The Cooper has a distint break between the barring on the outer and inner wings, whereas the Merlin has no such break.... Or to put it another way, the barring on the Cooper changes pattern, while that of the Merlin does not. The Merlin has a long enough tail. My only reservation is that the Merlin normally has three whiter bands on the underside of the tail...

I have about ten or twelve Merlin shots that I took two days ago and today...:lol:

You'll see....:idea:

Dave
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Old Oct 20, 2005, 7:18 PM   #7
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Thanx, Dave and Eric. Harriers have a white spot at the start of the top of the tail. I'll see if I have any that show the top side of the bird. If so, I'll let ya knpw.

dennis
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Old Oct 20, 2005, 7:32 PM   #8
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Thanx, Dave and Eric. Harriers have a white spot at the start of the top of the tail. I'll see if I have any that show the top side of the bird. If so, I'll let ya knpw.

dennis
Ok, I'm SURE this is a Merlin. The Cooper, a medium sized Hawk, with a thirty inch wingspan is something called an Accipator, they do NOT have the wing shape of a Falcon, which is what your Merlin is.

As for a Marsh Hawk, while not the biggest, it is a big bird, with a large female having a wingspan of 4 feet!

I took a bunch of pictures of BOTH, the day before yesterday and this morning. I'll post them soon. But the key here is the crook in the wings - that means Falcon, and it can only be a Merlin.

dave
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Old Oct 21, 2005, 1:21 PM   #9
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Well, I'm not even close familiar with birs of USA, but I can tell by 99,9% that this IS a HAWK. Just look at the pictures of merlin - ok I don't have any idea which species of Falco do you call merlin, but they usually have some brighter collar, or event distinguishing face patterns - I don't see them on this picture. And the tail - merlin's definitely have shorter tail.
From all that I say that it is Hawk. Whether it is coppers or other, don't know.
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Old Oct 21, 2005, 2:32 PM   #10
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CerambyX wrote:
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Well, I'm not even close familiar with birs of USA, but I can tell by 99,9% that this IS a HAWK. Just look at the pictures of merlin - ok I don't have any idea which species of Falco do you call merlin, but they usually have some brighter collar, or event distinguishing face patterns - I don't see them on this picture. And the tail - merlin's definitely have shorter tail.
From all that I say that it is Hawk. Whether it is coppers or other, don't know.
Normally I put my foot in my mouth. It's such a pleasure to see someone else do this instead of me...:lol:

Falcons have a distinctive sillouette. No "Hawk" has the silouette of a Falcon. This IS a Falcon. It can ONLY be one Falcon - the Merlin...

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