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Throat patches on Sharpies and Cooper's

posted by Jerry Liguori at
on Tuesday, August 27, 2013 

I don't often publish stuff in books or magazines that are difficult to see in the field or on birds in flight because minutiae type traits are often not helpful in these situations. But I do like talking about plumage traits and the blog is perfect for it. A friend mentioned something a while back that we had studied years ago, and the subject just came up today so I thought I'd share it. Many juvenile Cooper's Hawks have a pale throat with a stripe down the middle, while many juvenile Sharp-shinneds have a streaked throat. This throat thing is not a 100% diagnostic but is pretty reliable when used with other traits. Its just a secondary trait to take notice of, but nothing to rely on singularly. Anyway, check out the pics below ("click" to enlarge), the first 3 are Sharpies, the second 3 are Cooper's.

Also, it is more Common (especially in the West) for Coops to have streaky throats than for Sharpies to have a single throat line. The last two birds show these types...
 Sharp-shinned Hawk
Sharp-shinned Hawk 
Sharp-shinned Hawk 
 Cooper's Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
14 Comments:
Blogger Bryce said...

Great stuff Jerry. I've never noticed this feature, but I'll be looking for it with every perched accipiter from here forward. What a resource, this blog!

August 28, 2013 at 2:40 PM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

Thanks Bryce

I appreciate that you like the blog.

I'll post a few exceptions to the rule too just to make it clear that its not to be used alone

August 28, 2013 at 3:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for putting this up Jerry. It's a "secondary trait" to be used in conjunction with other things as you say, but I've always liked it. And, as you point out, of course, it's not 100%.

Jamie Cameron

August 28, 2013 at 5:45 PM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...


You gave me the idea to post it, so thanks Jamie.

I didn't mention, but it is more common for Coops (out West) to have streaky throats thatn it is for Sharpies to have a single throat line.

Thanks again

August 28, 2013 at 5:50 PM  
Blogger Vic Berardi said...

This is excellent Jerry (and Jamie)!

I love how you always add one more solving piece to the puzzle of raptor identification!!

August 29, 2013 at 10:28 AM  
Blogger Cathy Sheeter said...

Good to know about this trait! I never knew :). Love learning this stuff.

August 29, 2013 at 10:46 AM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

Thanks Vic and Cathy!

August 29, 2013 at 11:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bryce said it well. And while Sharpies and Coops may be awhile, this come just in time, as we begin manning the hawk tower for the fall migration on Sunday.

Rich

August 29, 2013 at 3:16 PM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

Hi Rich

Hope you see lots of hawks, and glad you like the blog!

August 29, 2013 at 3:20 PM  
Blogger Robert Stalnaker said...

Very interesting mark and although you say it is not 100% (and maybe regional differences), it is something to look at, especially on a perched accipiter.

August 29, 2013 at 6:49 PM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

Definitely agree Robert, glad you like my posts!

August 29, 2013 at 7:04 PM  
Anonymous Derek Lyon said...

I've never noticed this trait before, thanks for pointing it out. I was wondering, is it more a western thing?

August 30, 2013 at 7:37 AM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

its an Eastern and Western thing, but the overlap occurs more frequently in the West

August 30, 2013 at 4:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent post! Sometimes we need secondary traits to figure out an ID, this will help.

Thanks, Lig

Pete

September 9, 2013 at 10:00 AM  

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