Joined: Feb. 2006
|My neighbor has a lot of bird feeders in his backyard, and it resulted in periodic visits from a small hawk. I think it's a Cooper's. Yesterday I got to see it grab a Goldfinch off of one of the feeders. |
Or sharpshinned hawk, which are considerably smaller. They're easy to distinguish once you know how but ...
Cooper's hawk have much more robust legs. The sharpshinned hawk gets its name from a prominent ridge on its "shin" (metatarsal), which gives it a bit more fore-and-aft rigidity, otherwise its legs are glorified toothpicks.
Cooper's hawks also have blockier heads due to longer feathers on the rear of the head, that they lift to make their head "look big" (and scary, I guess) when nervous/scared see here.
Sharpshinned hawks are more heavily streaked (though there's a great deal of variation in Cooper's hawks - I've banded literally thousands of north american accipiters).
If you've got a kid - a brown-backed bird with brown streaking on the breast - the plumage is going to be grown in and fresh (migration cometh soon). A Cooper's hawk will show a distinct white terminal band. A sharpshinned will normally show a greyish terminal band though quite white (but narrow) is not totally unknown.
With an adult bird at this time of year, it's hard to tell, their tail will be molting enthusiastically and the old feather that haven't dropped yet beat to shit (i.e. any white band likely to be worn off). Sharpies are farther along in molt than Coops at this point (it's a size thing, male sharpies, the smallest, will be very far along now in august).
Far too much data, right?
Go find that hawk and look again!