Date: 12/1/18 9:30 am
From: Leon Bright <urraca2...>
Subject: [cobirds] Accipiter I.D. for beginners
Novice COBirders,

If you haven't discovered already, two common raptors, members of the
Accipiter family, are tricky to distinguish one from the other. Both
Sharp-shinned Hawks and Cooper's hawks mostly feed on small- to medium-sized
birds, so they like to hang around neighborhoods with feeders. If you check
your field guide you'll see that the plumage is very similar in the two
species and they overlap in size. However, there is a considerable
difference between some male "sharpies" (small) and some female "coops"
(larger). Yesterday I saw all the birds in my back yard flush in a panic.
The cause was a male sharpie that came flying past. I knew it was a
Sharp-shinned because it was not much larger than the White-winged and
Eurasian Collard-doves that scattered. This morning, seeing no feeder birds
the back yard, I realized why when I spotted a very large Accipiter perched
on the feeding station. I deduced it was a female Cooper's since it was
about twice the size of a White-winged dove.

So, when seeing an Accipiter, don't give up on identifying it but try to
check for size and then examine it closely for the field marks noted in your
field guide. Of course, comparing size and seeing field marks take a lot of
practice, but that's part of the fun of birding.

Leon Bright


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