Cooper's Hawk Visit - Bird Feeders - March 2021

We had a raptor visitor to our bird feeder this past week and I was able to grab a photo of him/her with their back to us.  You can see it in the photo below that she was perched on the top arm of our feeder set and there wasn't another bird anywhere around.  

We've had other birds of prey visitors to our yard over the years and I've posted some photos of them from time-to time.  Last year, I saw a Cooper's Hawk in a similar spot.  And a huge bird far off in the trees.  I heard an owl on my walk to the train in January of 2020.  And, most recently, a large hawk in October of 2020.  

I've identified the birds in various ways, but I've always been *kinda* sure about the identification.  

But, this bird gave me a lot to work with in terms of looks.  Looking through our birding book, I seem to have narrowed it down to two hawks.  A Cooper's Hawk.  Or a Sharp-Shinned Hawk.  According to the book, the Sharp-Shinned Hawk is a 'doppelganger of the Cooper's Hawk'. Here's more:

If you read that, you'll notice an important call-out.  They are "uncommon winter visitors across the state". IS Winter around here.  So, I'm thinking we can rule it out.

This post on The Spruce shows how to identify a Cooper's Hawk.  They list a bunch of things, but there are three that I'd like to call out from their list.

  • Dark Cap - a dark spot on the bird's head.
  • Three Broad, dark stripes on the long tail.
  • A white "terminal band" on the tail feathers.

So, a zoom-in on that photo reveals this bird having some matches.

*Ding, Ding*

I think we have a match.  


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