18 Apr 2011

Surprised by a Sharp-shinned Hawk

When I initially saw this hawk today, I thought with glee that the Cooper's hawks that I photographed so often last summer had returned.  In fact they have.  It was the Cooper's voice that got my attention and it was the Cooper's hawk that I chased through the little forest that I visit quite regularly in my neighborhood.  But the Cooper's hawk eluded me for quite some time, while this one was perched, quite unconcerned, high up in a tree.  When I spotted her, I thought she had matured over the winter and come into her adult colors. Or was a different individual of the same species.  As I have yet to see a mature Cooper's hawk, I was delighted by the prospect.  
Sharp-shinned Hawk Female
When I got home and had a good look at my photo's however, I was nagged by the fact that something about this hawk was quite different.   Then I recalled seeing a Sharp shinned Hawk a couple of years ago and mistaking it for a Robin.  So I searched the web for info on the Sharp shinned Hawk and was both surprised and thrilled to discover that what I had on camera this time, was indeed a Sharp Shinned Hawk.  Since this  hawk was quite a bit bigger than a Robin, I concluded it must be a female of the species, which is quite naturally twice the size of the male.

sharp-shinned hawk

Sharp-shinned Hawks and Cooper's Hawks are often confused and not only due to the fact that their adult coloring is virtually identical.  The female Sharp-shinned Hawk is almost the same size as the male Cooper's hawk.  Both species have red eyes when mature and both have a gray head.  To separate the  two species look for round eyes, a squared tail and broad chest which are characteristic of the Sharp-shinned hawk.


No comments:

Post a Comment