Friday, November 13, 2009

Cooper's Hawk

I think this is a Sharp-shinned Hawk although being not much of a birder... Anyone? This bird let me get right under its tree and circle completely around. When it finally left, it swooped down at me and shot off so fast that I couldn't see where it went! Too bad I was without my telephoto, making these pictures heavily cropped.

I'd earlier passed by this shot for posting. It was a bit fuzzy and I caught the bird just as it was leaving the frame--right after this shot is when it dove at me. Surprising what Photoshop's Smart Sharpen can accomplish...

I think this shot better than the others details some tail roundness but it's all relative and unknown to me. I'm tempted to call it Cooper's. Any further thoughts on this?

P.S. I noticed that the Comments widget has its own opinion on species! I'd used that name when first laying out the post, before very much research. Now it seems that it won't let go.

And the final word is that this is a male Cooper's Hawk, Accipiter cooperii. See the comments for details!


  1. Pretty boy! (Or girl!) -Joyce

  2. I am not a birder; I want to be, I try to be, but I'm not too good at it- that being said, I have yet to be able to feel confident in telling the difference between a Sharp-shinned hawk and a Cooper's hawk. I believe the key is to get a good look at the tail- the Cooper will have a rounded tail tip, while the Sharp-shinned will be shorter and more squared off. I usually just chalk my sightings up to being a Sharp, as they are said to be more common .
    I think these shots are amazing- even before I read that you had to use your macro and then crop!

  3. Joyce, I've read that the females are larger but it is another of those relative properties for me. I'd really rather use she or he that "it"! :-)

  4. Gretchen, I've added a photo and text to this post and wonder if you'd have any more thoughts?


    -- John

    p.s. Comments are working great for me today.

  5. Jeesh- I'm sitting here with all my field guides opened around me and STILL can't decide between the two- I'm taking a stab and saying it looks like a young male... I want to say Cooper's, by virtue of that seemingly rounded tail; but if it makes us feel any better, all my books admit that it is quite difficult even for experienced birders to tell these two hawks apart. If it is indeed a Cooper's, they are rare; so you really have a treasure here!
    And I still think these are really amazing shots, no matter what lens you used. Well done!

  6. Thanks Gretchen, for everything. Great collaboration! :-)

    Cornell's got an interesting article speaking specifically to the separation of species: