Hawks Identified

The answers to the hawk identifications from last week’s post “A Four Hawk Week” are as follows.

Top Photo: Cooper’s hawk.

The rest of the hawks are:

Hawk 1 – Sharp-shinned hawk (immature)

What you can see is the rounded wings, longish squared-off tail and small head.

What you can’t see is the rapid flap, flap, flap and glide as the bird flies along. Quick movements usually means small bird. This is a small hawk. Some of the smallest males (females are larger than males) are about the size of a blue jay.

Hawk 1

Hawk 2 – Red-shouldered hawk (adult)

What you can see is the reddish underparts, translucent comma-like areas near ends of the relatively short wings, and white and black bands on the relatively long tail.

What you can’t see is the relative size of the bird in its movements. A lot can be learned about a bird’s size by the relative quickness or slowness of its movements. Larger birds tend to maneuver, turn and flap, wheel and circle more slowly than smaller species. Red-shoulder hawks are medium sized hawks.

Another thing not apparent in a static image is the the almost non stop kee-eeear, kee-eeear, kee-eeear call as the bird banks and soars overhead.

Hawk 2

Hawk 3 – Cooper’s hawk (immature)

What you can see is the rounded wings and long rounded tail. The head is relatively large and has a brown cast, it is no doubt an accipiter like the sharp-shinned hawk above. And, it’s in immature plumage. However, whether in immature or adult plumage, Cooper’s and sharp-shinned hawks are nearly identical except for size.

What you can’t see is the measured flap and glide of its wings giving away its larger size. In fact, this one looked to me like a large female which can be a third larger than males. That size difference can often be detected in the quickness of the birds’s movements. But, it’s worth remembering, even the smallest Cooper’s hawk male is larger than the largest sharp-shinned female.

Hawk 3

Hawk 4 – Red-tailed hawk (adult)

What you can see is the dark markings on the leading edge of the very broad and long wings, the dark band of streaked feathers across the upper belly, and of course, the brick red tail.

What you can’t see is the steady, stable flight, with slow deliberate wing beats. Even on windy days red-tails tend to keep an even keel.

Hawk 4

Easy, huh.

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