Take Cover – Hawk in the Yard!

Cooper's hawkThis hawk and her mate have become increasingly frequent visitors to my yard with its bird feeders.  I think she is a Cooper’s hawk, and not a sharp-shinned, and here’s why:

Cooper’s are bigger, 14-20 inches – crow size – as opposed to 10-14 inches – dove or jay size – for the sharp-shinned. This is a big bird. Eyes are closer to the front of the head than those of a sharp-shinned.

Feathers on top of head are darker than those behind the neck, giving the bird a capped appearance,Cooper's hawk on Hudson Streetas opposed to a uniformly dark cap and nape in the sharp-shinned.

What a feather coat!The Cooper’s long tail has a rounded rather than a square tip.  What a feather coat she sports!

Listen to the call: It may be a post-dinner song, somewhat defiant, as if to say: “Well, I have to eat, too!”

But check out these links from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website and decide for yourself:
Identifying the Cooper’s Hawk
Identifying the Sharp-shinned Hawk
Tricky Bird Identifications
Cooper’s Hawk photo

As a somewhat belated warning, the flickers call after-the-fact in imitation. Their normally slower-paced mellow cry becomes faster and more shrill: “Be mindful: Hawk was just here and may come again!”



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9 Responses to Take Cover – Hawk in the Yard!

  1. Monica says:

    Here’s a Wikipedia comparison of a male Cooper’s with a female sharp-shinned (raptor females generally larger than the males)
    Looks like we have a Cooper’s in the yard.

  2. Monica says:

    pretty large, isn’t she?

  3. Monica says:

    Hi BB, sorry about the audio tape. I wonder why. sometimes when I can’t play things, my computer tells me I have to download updated versions of players, etc. Don’t know if that’s the problem. And the orange eye color must have a function. I’ll check it out.

  4. beeblu says:

    I would say that, just on visuals, I’d agree that it’s a Cooper’s.

  5. beeblu says:

    Love her orange eye colour and wonder its purpose. Marvellous to have these beautiful birds of prey in your garden.

    (I couldn’t get the MP3 to play. 😦 )

  6. Monica says:

    The flickers fooled me for a while. I couldn’t understand why the birds were still out and about when the hawk was calling. I finally figured out it was the flicker!

  7. Monica says:

    Thanks, Laz. It is just possible we have two kinds of hawks visiting, the Cooper’s and a sharp-shinned. Not sure yet.

  8. So beautiful and you got great pictures, identification can be challenging!. Cooper’s visit my wooded backyard, their presence only noticed after a collective vanishing act 🙂 How interesting about the flickers!.

  9. lazfreedman says:

    Great shots, Beautiful Bird!

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