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Friday, December 9. 2011
He is back to feeding on the sparrows at my bird feeder. Quite a sight to see him trying to swoop in low under the radar from his perch, then chasing a bird through the bushes with much thrashing around.
Most of his attacks fail, but clearly enough succeed to keep him around. I sometimes term my bird-feeder a Sharpie-feeding station. Somebody should call PETA, because if I did these sorts of things to little songbirds, I'd end up in jail.
Each raptor genus is readily identifiable by profile, regardless of size, maturity, or species.
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BD, I had a little hawk on my back fence when I came home tonight. I would like to email it to you and have you identify it if you will. The red eyes on your hawk are arresting.
Cannot give out our emails.
Describe the bird, or google All About Birds and try to find it there.
Out here in Santa Barbara we get Sharpies only in the winter unlike the slightly larger but otherwise identical Cooper's hawk which we see here year-round. I love both birds: the red eyes, the WWII fighter plane profile as they glide across the sky, and their fearless pursuit of prey. Focus, focus, focus. When not going after food they are quit skittish... And yeah, I love your blog man, you frequently make my day. Best to all of you, --W
BD. That makes sense, sorry I should not have asked.
I think it is a Coopers Hawk or Merlin hark. Here is a 20 second video I took of it. http://vimeo.com/7673620
Brian, (saw your vid) I think it's a juvenile (1st year) Cooper's hawk. Both sharp-shinned and Cooper's hawks are a bit mono-chromatic (brownish-grayish) in their first year with yellow eyes. The wing and tail markings, plus its size, seem to indicate Cooper's to me... But, like BD says, it's almost impossible to tell the two birds apart, very very subtle differences. One of those differences is size, the sharp-shinned is a very small hawk, sparrow-sized really, so I'm stickin' with Cooper's on this on.
I have a merlin (a falcon) living somewhere near my backyard. Also an amazing predator, I've watched it snatch hummingbirds out of mid-air, amazing if you think about how quick, fast, and agile hummingbirds are.
BTW, I liked your video (very lucky shot, I'm jealous).
Oops, must have had sparrows on my mind--sharpies are sometimes called, sparrow hawks, but they are NOT sparrow-sized. Slightly bigger than a jay, smaller than a crow.
He is back to feeding on the sparrows at my bird feeder.
Among fly fishermen that is known as a "secondary hatch".
I've owned a sharpie boat, never heard tell of a hawk called a sharpie. Must be because of the name - sharp shinned. Learn something new everyday.
By the way, not to argue with an expert, but with the dark cap on on it's head, isn't that a Cooper's Hawk? I'm not an expert on birds by any stretch, but we had a Cooper's Hawk (ID'd by the local Audubon Society expert) around here and it looked exactly like this one. He ID'd it by the dark head "cap" and the broad which band at the end of the tail feathers.
By the way, I was over at the local Audubon Society in Pomfret the other day looking at some antique bamboo fly rods one of the interpreters found in an attic - I bought one actually - a very rare Maxwell Leonard 47-3 6 1/2' rod - needs varnish, but it's in great shape).
Anyway, he said that we're getting an early Spring - lots of birds are already back and plenty of hawks not normally seen until the begining of March.
I sure as heck hope so. This winter is getting to me.
The only place I've seen 'sharpy' sailboats and 'pinkie' sailboats are in Baltimore harbor. They used to be used by Chesapeake Bay fishermen in the 1800s and early 1900s.
Pretty boats ...
The classic Sharpie boats were originally designed for use in Long Island Sound by oystermen out of New Haven, CT. The originals, several of which are on display in Mystic, CT at the Mystic Seaport, had three mast steps - forward, mid-ships and one inbetween usually configured as cat-ketch rig meaning that there was one mast at the bow and one behind. Both types had plumb bows and rounded sterns with no tumble home - flat sides basically.
The ones around the Baltimore/Chesapeake/Carolinas were longer (up to 40' in some examples of the type) usually rigged gaff-schooner style and always two man boats. That style was adapted in Louisiana oyster fishery powered by single cylinder hit/miss 30 hp engines.
Mine was an 28' original that had been restored - built in 1923 at the Morrison yard in East Haven, CT originally. Never really liked the boat to tell the truth - for sailing I much prefer the higher performance sail boats. Looked great though.
Agree with Tom Francis re: I also think it's a Cooper's. The reddish/rufus breast and cap struck me immediately as Cooper's. We've got a sharpie hits our feeders daily ... ballzy birds. Read a story (I think in Pete Dunne's book) 'bout a sharpie flying thru a glass window and trying to attack a parakeet in a cage. yowza.
Cheers (and C'MON SPRING!)
That photo is a Sharpie. Breast usually not so visibly red. Takes a bit of an expert of tell a Sharpie from a Cooper's.
I'll go with your opinion then. With birds, well they aren't something that I'm normally conversant with. Everytime I see a new one that I haven't seen before, I run to the Audubon Society Field guide and find out its a bird I've seen before, just looks different. :>)
I love birds, feed 'em every winter - just ain't my thing.
We have both sharpies and coopers limiting the numbers of sparrows and house finches at out feeder. Love both kinds.
One way to tell the difference is that the end of the cooper's tail is straight across, but the sharpie's is rounded, sort of like the top edge of fan.
I agree that the picture is a sharpie.
"Our" Sharpie showed up for the first time this year two days ago. The sparrows got a whole lot more cautious.
And don't Sharpies have the squared tail, and Cooper's the rounded one?
Yes. Not so easy to see usually, though.
Cooper's are probably much more uncommon, and not famous for hanging around bird-feeders.
Outside yesterday and caught a glimpse of a falcon (pointed wing tips) disappear behind a shrub, and then heard a sharp WHAP. Walked around the bush and there was an explosion of little grey feathers floating about 7 feet above the ground. Saw no sign of the predator or the prey. Guessing a merlin.
We're always watching for the little hunters around our feeders. Pete Dunn (Cape May Hawk Watch) relates in his book a sharpie crashing through a Florida room screen and trying to pry a parakeet from its cage before the owner managed to shoo the thing out of there.
Excitement here the past week or so - we've got a goshawk staking out our feeders (presumably for the squirrels). Took three sightings to ID but it's a definite. Have never seen a Goshawk on Long Island - the only other one was seen while walleye fishing in Ontario. Big powerful bird.
I am hopeless when it comes to identifying birds. The only ones I can ID reliably are My Osprey and red-tails IF they are flying low and away from me. And even for My Osprey I can only ID mature vs. juvenile, not male vs. female.
We have tons of red-tails around but I've begun noticing some other "hawk" that is smaller. I believe I may need to figure out if they are coopers or these sharp shinned thingies. Based on the range maps it would seem more likely to be coopers but...
Love watching raptors - even those beastly turkey vultures. Can swing a dead pigeon anymore without nearly swatting one of them.
Not Coopers. They are fairly rare, and difficult to distinguish from Sharpies. That's for the experts, IMO.
Your range map is not too accurate.
I use the "Cornell Lab of Ornithology - All About Birds" site. For example, the "year round" range they show for Coopers
suggests I can see them (provided they exist) year round in most of the nation.
Are they inaccurate?
They show a slightly lesser range for the Sharp-Shinned.
The unidentified hawks I'm spotting (on poles and in flight, mostly while driving or riding in a car) are smaller than red-tails but don't seem all that much smaller. Always near wooded areas.
You give me no description, but the most usual hawk along roads in winter is the Red Tail. If you see a white breast, that's him.
Yeah, I mentioned we have a nearly unlimited supply of the red-tails anymore (which is a wonderful thing, IMO - even see them stop regularly - if only briefly - in the trees of my yard or the neighbors. But I've noticed something smaller lately. One of these days I'll see one I can spend a few moments looking at rather than just a glimpse.