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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Breakfast Visitor

Our neighborhood hawks sure like to perch on the building opposite our kitchen. During breakfast this morning my wife said nonchalantly, "Looks like the Cooper's Hawk is back". I leaned over to the window and looked across the courtyard to the roof of an adjacent building. The hawk wasn't perched on the antenna, as I expected, but on the corner of the roof. It also wasn't a Cooper's Hawk, but a juvenile Sharp-shinned Hawk*. That's a first for our "backyard". There's a flock of pigeons that roosts on the next building over, unfortunately, he'd have little chance of catching one. He was scanning the ground for something a bit smaller, maybe a junco, White-throated Sparrow or House Sparrow. After we cleaned up our breakfast dishes, I took another look and he was still on the roof.

That brings our roof raptor list to 4 species; Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk and American Kestrel. There is a very narrow stretch of backyards between the buildings on our block, but I guess it attracts a lot of prey.

*Sharp-shinned Hawks and Cooper's Hawks are notoriously difficult to tell apart in the field. My assumption that it was a sharpie is based entirely on its very small size relative to the ledge and bricks. I measured a brick outside my window and it is only 2" thick. Also, he looked tiny compared to the pigeons that were flying past.

by Rob Jett for "The City Birder"


Yojimbot said...

So hard to say, but I'd go with juvy male cooper's. i had one a few weeks back as did bruce and its the shape of the head and tail feathers more than the size thats the give away.

John said...

The hawk on the chimney looks like a sharp-shinned to me, too. When I zoom out the image, the bird appears to have a square tail. It also does look very small.

Rob Jett said...

It's a tough call because it was pretty windy and his head feathers were lifting up giving that squared-off Cooper's Hawk appearance.

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