Wednesday, December 12, 2007



This evening when I went to the blog there was a comment from Chris Lyons concerning the Hawk I'd photographed in the backyard. Chris is one of the chief observers of Hawkeye and Rose out at the Fordham nest and an avid birder. He said in part--


I'm fairly sure that's an immature Cooper's Hawk.

The only other possibility is Sharpie, but the relatively unmarked belly, combined with the pronounced white tip to the tail, and the large pale spots on the back, all tend to rule that out.

When you bird in New York City, in places like Van Cortlandt Park, you get a ton of practice with Coopers and Sharpies (and Broad-winged) in the fall and winter. Back in the early 90's, I used to tell other birders "I'm seeing more Cooper's than Sharpies!", and they'd scoff--they don't anymore. Cooper's Hawks are making a huge comeback.


I'd emailed John Blakeman with some other photos of Backyard Hawk and then sent on Chris Lyon's opinion. Here's what John Blakeman had to say--


He' absolutely right. I retract my errant ID.

It was the white patches on the back that caused my error.

And the angles of the photos weren't the best, which failed to reveal the longish shape of the hawk. The photos seem to show a more compact, buteonine shape.

After you posted my ID, after I re-examined the photos, especially in reference to some shots of other Cooper's Hawk which had the same back patterns, I realized my error.

Frankly, my greatest error was to presume that some immature Broadwing was somehow trying to spend Christmas in Wisconsin. Every one of these birds yet alive in the wild is whiling away the winter in the northern parts of South America.

Sorry for the inaccuracy. Glad someone with more ID experience with Cooper's Hawks was able to set this right.

--John Blakeman

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