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November 24, 2009 / stephanie

backyard hawk watch

This weekend I heard a bang on the glass sliding door. I ran to go look and see if a bird had tried to fly into our kitchen and saw a quite large bluish bird flying away from the porch. Not what I was expecting to see. What’s big and blue.. but definitely not a Blue Jay..

The bird settled on the ground a few feet away from my window. It was a beautiful adult accipiter! I’m guessing the hawk was not the one who flew into the window, but its unfortunate victim. I’m sorry that the Robin tried to seek shelter in our kitchen and was quite unlucky in that regard. But on the other hand, I think it is still pretty cool to see a beautiful predator in action!

When it comes to accipters, I am still learning my fieldmarks. The differences between the Cooper’s Hawk and Sharp-shinned Hawk are not always very clear. They have almost identical colorations and even their sizes can overlap. When it comes to birds of prey, the male is usually smaller, giving it an advantage when doing aerial displays to impress the larger female. Cooper’s Hawks are generally larger than Sharp-shinned (Crow sized vs. Jay sized), but the male Cooper’s Hawk can sometimes be similar in size to the female Sharp-shinned (or sharpie)! I am starting to get a better “feel” for Sharpie vs. Coop’s, so I decided my backyard predator was a Sharpie.

See if you can tell for yourself..
WARNING: Upcoming photo not suited for all animal lovers and/or Robin enthusiasts

See how this hawk is not even that much bigger than its prey? And the head looks small compared to its body. These are important features I used to decide this is indeed a Sharp-shinned Hawk.

The next day I saw more feathers on my porch. Bluish brown. One with black spots. Definitely not Robin.. Signs point to Mourning Dove. It seems like our predator has found a pretty decent meal-zone. Maybe I will see the sharpie again!


One Comment

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  1. Shady Character / Nov 24 2009 1:11 pm

    That's a great shot. Whenever the Cooper's come near my yard they're either on the move or too high up and obscured to get a good look. What a beautiful bird!

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