Saturday, 14 January 2012

A Lethal Beauty

My yard is usually alive with bird calls from sunrise to sunset. The constant fussing of the quails, the sweet chirruping of the Lesser Goldfinches, the raucous clatter of the Gila Woodpeckers and the bizarre rattling of the Road Runners, to name but a few. So when silence suddenly descends I know there must be a predator in their midst.

This magnificent hawk landed right in front of my kitchen window and I managed to grab my camera and get a couple of good shots before it flew off. Would the birding experts among you care to weigh in on the decision, is it a Sharp-shinned or a Coopers Hawk? I can't decide.


Kathiesbirds said...

Celeste, as you know, this species can be remarkably difficult to discern. I usually look for a Cooper's to have a more capped appearance to its head and a sharpie to have a more hooded appearance. Also, the Cooper's usually has a faint eyebrow, and this bird certainly has that. Cooper's are usually more tubular through the body and this bird also looks like that, i.e., its hips are almost as wide as its shoulders. Though the back of its head does not seem to come to a peak and I can't tell size from the photo I am leaning more towards Cooper's than Sharpie but as you know, there is some size overlap between large sharpie females and small cooper's males. Good luck!

Celeste said...

Kathie, thanks for your thoughts. My leaning was slightly more towards a Coopers but I think I kind of wanted it to be a Sharp-shinned so I was hoping I was wrong! Oh well, a beauty none the less :)

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