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This bird flew into my yard today around noon. Located in Ruckersville VA. We are a rural area about 15 miles north of Charlottesville in Central Virginia. Tried using Google to ID but the banded tail and lack of red coloration confuses me.

Anyone know who my new neighbor might be?

Thanks,

Raptor.jpg

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Posted (edited)

@78USN98, welcome to Whatbird!

You have either a Cooper's Hawk or a Sharp-shinned Hawk.  Both prey on other birds, with feeders being popular targets.

They're very similar looking, with Coops usually being larger.  In this case, the bird looks 'bug-eyed' and relatively small compared to the fence post and rail.  I'm going with Sharp-shinned but wait for better-informed opinions.  Sharpie's spend the summer further north, I'm not sure if they've left VA yet, and size is notoriously difficult to judge, so this could be a Coop.

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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17 minutes ago, Charlie Spencer said:

@78USN98, welcome to Whatbird!

You have either a Cooper's Hawk or a Sharp-shinned Hawk.  Both prey on other birds, with feeders being popular targets.

They're very similar looking, with Coops usually being larger.  In this case, the bird looks 'bug-eyed' and relatively small compared to the fence post and rail.  I'm going with Sharp-shinned but wait for better-informed opinions.  Sharpie's spend the summer further north, I'm not sure if they've left VA yet, and size is notoriously difficult to judge, so this could be a Coop.

With the strong and wide B&W banding on the tail and the heavy white pattern on the wings, shouldn't this be an adult Red-shouldered Hawk?

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16 minutes ago, PascalNJ said:

With the strong and wide B&W banding on the tail and the heavy white pattern on the wings, shouldn't this be an adult Red-shouldered Hawk?

I agree

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Posted (edited)
26 minutes ago, PascalNJ said:

With the strong and wide B&W banding on the tail and the heavy white pattern on the wings, shouldn't this be an adult Red-shouldered Hawk?

I hereby resolve to stop attempting to identify birds when viewing Whatbird on my phone.  Should I attempt to do so again, I must trade in my Vipers for two paper towel tubes taped together.

Charles A. Spencer

10 May 2021

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I can't believe I missed that, and in front of someone new, too.  :classic_blush:

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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The Red-shouldered Hawk was my choice from my Google search but the coloring is what made me come on here. To my old eyes, there was not enough red and too much brown. However, I am happy to accept the ID from much more experienced people.

Charlie, No worries. I learned a while ago to always examine pictures on my laptop instead of my phone if accuracy is needed. My eyes have enough issues reading email on the phone let alone details in photos.

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3 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

I hereby resolve to stop attempting to identify birds when viewing Whatbird on my phone.  Should I attempt to do so again, I must trade in my Vipers for two paper towel tubes taped together.

Charles A. Spencer

10 May 2021

.

.

.

.

I can't believe I missed that, and in front of someone new, too.  :classic_blush:

 

3 hours ago, 78USN98 said:

 

Charlie, No worries. I learned a while ago to always examine pictures on my laptop instead of my phone if accuracy is needed. My eyes have enough issues reading email on the phone let alone details in photos.

As an old codger myself, I'll reiterate what I've said before. Phones were meant to talk on, not to look at!!!!! 😏

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8 hours ago, 78USN98 said:

The Red-shouldered Hawk was my choice from my Google search but the coloring is what made me come on here. To my old eyes, there was not enough red and too much brown. However, I am happy to accept the ID from much more experienced people.

Charlie, No worries. I learned a while ago to always examine pictures on my laptop instead of my phone if accuracy is needed. My eyes have enough issues reading email on the phone let alone details in photos.

Accipiters do NOT have white tail bands. Their pale tail bands are gray, usually obviously so, and MUCH wider.

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There's something instructive here that I'm having trouble putting into words. I can see where @Charlie Spencercame up with that ID, because I got to The same place initially. Raptor ID 101: long tail, with wings that barely overlap the tail = accipiter. On a phone screen without zooming in on the photo it's just a size comparison at that point. I think the instructive point is that no single clue is conclusive.

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If I saw this bird in the field I'd immediately lean Cooper's Hawk based on behavior. However, I've seen Red-Tailed Hawks hanging out at feeders trying to catch doves so behavior isn't the end-all.

It is too large to be a Sharpie and I'd rule that out right away. The fence gives a good frame of reference. Again, that says Cooper's.

Eye color could be a differentiator. Adult Cooper's have red eyes. Adult Red-Shouldered have brown eyes. Can't tell from this photo and immatures might have the same color eyes anyway, but if it had red eyes that would rule out Red-Shouldered.

I wouldn't rely on tail bands. I have seen Cooper's Hawks with white tail bands and in different lighting conditions it is hard to tell white from gray anyway. Below is a Cooper's Hawk. What color are the tail bands? 

Cooper's Hawk

What makes me think it is not a Cooper's is the relatively stout build of a Buteo. The tail just isn't QUITE long enough relative to the body. It is more barrel-chested. It should be pretty obvious from the tail if it is a Buteo if you saw it in flight. Not sure you got that chance.

Checkered-wings are probably what puts it over the top for Red-Shouldered. Around here (California) any hawk that looks like a Buteo but is smaller than a Red-Tailed immediately makes it a Red-Shouldered candidate. Checkered-wings checks off the box for me. Not sure about Virginia.

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19 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

I hereby resolve to stop attempting to identify birds when viewing Whatbird on my phone. 

Yes, I have a definite advantage here: I'm looking at the picture on my desktop with 2 x 24" screens 😁

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14 hours ago, dimitrig said:

If I saw this bird in the field I'd immediately lean Cooper's Hawk based on behavior. However, I've seen Red-Tailed Hawks hanging out at feeders trying to catch doves so behavior isn't the end-all.

In addition to looking at a too-small image, I placed way too much emphasis on behavior with this bird.  I saw the feeders and immediately went for accipiter. 

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10 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

In addition to looking at a too-small image, I placed way too much emphasis on behavior with this bird.  I saw the feeders and immediately went for accipiter. 

I think we all have certain expectations about what a bird is "supposed" to do. Twice now I have seen large Cooper's Hawks (almost certainly females) prey on adult rats in my yard. But wait, isn't that an accipiter? I have also seen Scrub Jays (aka Jay The Ripper) attack and kill smaller ADULT birds (not just nestlings). It was pretty horrifying the first time I saw it, because they generally tolerate each other. That said, I think behavior is important as long as we acknowledge that Buteos do hunt birds and Accipiters do go after other prey occasionally.

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