Accipiter Tail Tips...

posted by Jerry Liguori at
on Sunday, May 26, 2013 

I have lots of accipiter posts I'd like to get to, but here is one I posted on <> a while ago, and a subject that is forever talked about. Accipiters will always be tricky, especially Sharp-shinned vs. Cooper's Hawk, since they look so similar. Many Sharpies have very rounded or slightly rounded tails (typically females), and some Cooper's have square-tipped tails for certain reasons (molt, feather wear, etc). Here are some examples ("click" image to enlarge). Also note how some Cooper's (especially males) can appear small-headed and stocky overall in certain poses or instances.

Using a single trait does not make for accurate accipiter identifications, it is a combination of traits, so don't get caught up on a single trait that "distracts" you from the rest of the bird. There is much to say about this group of hawks, so more to come.

Hope this helps...
Blogger Bryce said...

That comparison compilation is great. I really like the way you presented the photos. Very helpful.

May 26, 2013 at 4:17 PM  
Anonymous Jerry Liguori said...

Thanks Bryce.....many more posts to come.

May 27, 2013 at 9:09 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

At some point please talk about immature Cooper's v. immature Goshawk.

When it might be a Sharpie or a Coops, you have a problem, but not necessarily a misidentification. More likely an argument. I think the most misidentified accipiter that goes into the books is the Goshawk. And the culprit is most often a juvenile Cooper's Hawk. Where shape, flight stile and proportions are good for separating the Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawks from each other, a large immature Cooper's stones people and they completely ignore those three traits. They just see a huge accipiter and forget about the pinched waist, wing shape and overall lack of real bulk that even an immature female Coops shows.

With all of those hours we spent together on the platform in Cape May it was easy to identify Cooper's and Sharp-shinned. I would just wait for you to say 'coops' or 'sharpie'.

May 27, 2013 at 7:11 PM  
Anonymous Jerry Liguori said...

Right on Bob...that is a post I am going to do!

Hah, you actually took my word for it at Cape May...thanks for the compliment.

May 28, 2013 at 8:19 AM  
Blogger Nelson said...

Jerry - I will say it again, any hawker who observes an Accipiter and calls it a Cooper's because the hawk has red vermiculation on chest , belly, and under wing coverts may be taking the wrong path. As Northern goshawks can present this condition. So as you understand, we must consider wing structure, wing movement, wing position in a glide and a soar, body structure which might present as a robust chest. And the structure of the base of the tail when the tail is completely folded.
On another upcoming post, I will give the locations of Goshawks (red) that I have observed. Also, it is very difficult for an advanced hawker to suggest that a female Goshawk might have been a (large) female Cooper's. The best - Nelson Briefer- goshawk specialist- Anacortes, WA.

May 29, 2013 at 7:17 PM  
Anonymous Jerry Liguori said...

Nelson, thanks for the interest in my site...and I appreciate your passion for Goshawks!

May 29, 2013 at 8:46 PM  
Blogger Silversea Starsong said...

Nice series there...but the search for features that actually identify these two seems to be a wild goose chase!

I'll just leave them for the others to identify!

December 7, 2013 at 8:40 PM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

Thanks for checking the blog out....and I agree, they can be difficult!

December 8, 2013 at 7:59 AM  

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