Thursday, December 22, 2011

Blakeman on Sharp-shinned Hawks, Sharpies vs Coops, and Mitch Says Riverside Mom Has a New Mate

The Accipiter on the birdbath the day of December 15, 2011. I said I was leaning towards it being a Sharp-shinned Hawk and asked if anyone wanted to go on record.

John Blakeman took up the challenge.


I think the Accipiter is a sharpie, as it appears to have little or no neck, with the head glued down on the shoulders.

Another view of the visitor of the 15th.
Mr. Blakeman continued,

The other give away, which I couldn't discern from this photo, would be the appearance of the eyes. Sharpies always have bigger-than-normal eyes, compared to the size of the entire head. They look like they just stuck their talons in an electrical outlet,with expanded, startled eyes.

And yes, Accipiters will take winter baths (as will peregrines, even red-tails sometimes).

--John Blakeman

And remember the Accipiter that visited earlier in the month?

Can we all say this bird looks "robust" compared to the Sharpie above? I think that robust may be the keyword to the "feel" between the two species, Cooper's and Sharp-shinned, if you only get a glance.

And as Mr. Blakeman pointed out, there appears to be much more neck on this bird. Go ahead scroll back up and look. See? He's so right.

This is the Cooper's Hawk that was haunting the back yard and finally showed herself on December 5, 2011, sitting on the Big Nest, taking her ease waiting for a sparrow to pop out of the twig pile a few feet away.

One of the things I should have done in the first place when the Accipitor appeared on the 15th was to compare the photos from the two different visits. I remembered that Dec. 5ths bird was bigger but by how much bigger is rather startling once the photos are viewed. It is extremely helpful to have two birds in the same area when it comes to sizing them.

The Cooper's suddenly appears to be almost Red-tailed size in comparison. Of course if there was a Red-tailed Hawk photo in the same area and I had a photo for us to look at, she'd probably look like Godzilla in comparison to the Cooper's Hawk. It's all relative.

And another lesson to be relearned yet again. I missed Sharpie's exit in this photo the first time through the photographs as there was so much glare in the picture from the window glass it didn't appear even worth looking at. It just goes to show...always look at everything you've got. Not for the perfect photograph's sake but for documentation, documentation, documentation...

And next up from NYC Astronomy buff and birdwatcher Mitch Nusbaum--

I was on my bike when this bird flew as I approached the light post he was perched on. I drove by him and stopped where I wasn't conspicuous and was able to image him twice. I thought his dark eyes would indicate an adult bird.
(It appears to be a reflection off feathers around the eye at first but as Mitch found out, there is actually a little slice of yellow iris visible and therefore an immature. D.B.) Also Riverside mom has a new mate. And best wishes about Violet. Seasons Greetings, Mitch N.

Donegal Browne

Coming up- The Newville Red-tailed Hawk hunts, Doorstep Dove and Friend hang out, and Silver has another bath frenzy in the roosting pan.

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