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6 minutes ago, floraphile said:

That's not helpful!  What are they and why?

That seems put somewhat rudely. He technically did help by telling you they weren't what you thought. Not sure what your intention was, but be careful with how you type your comments and be aware that we can't sense your tone in a text box.

A Merlin would have a pale/white throat with no streaking, and would typically have more pointed wings. I think there is also something with the banding in the tail, and there seems to be a tendency for them to have darker tips on the primaries and some of the secondaries. These would appear to be Sharpies.

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lol chill out guys, it's literally just a bird forum.

also these are Cooper's Hawks. The first image is the most Sharpie-ish, but I'd need to see more photos before I'd feel confident calling that. 

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38 minutes ago, floraphile said:

That's not helpful!  What are they and why?

I thought your question was asking which ones are Merlins and which ones are sharpies, and I was just saying none of them are Merlins, and thus, I thought, saying they were Sharpies. I am sorry if that was not clear. 

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1 minute ago, Hasan said:

lol chill out guys, it's literally just a bird forum.

also these are Cooper's Hawks. The first image is the most Sharpie-ish, but I'd need to see more photos before I'd feel confident calling that. 

Another reason I didn't state they were sharpies was because I wasn't sure! 

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When seen from below, Merlins have a clear pattern of light throat, dark-streaked underparts, light or brownish vent, and dark tail.  If you can see details on the tail, it's black with narrow white bands.  Accipiters have gray and black tail bands, with the gray a little wider than the black, as you can see in your pictures. (And partly sniped by TBN.)

Edited by Jerry Friedman
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3 hours ago, Trevor L. said:

That seems put somewhat rudely. He technically did help by telling you they weren't what you thought. Not sure what your intention was, but be careful with how you type your comments and be aware that we can't sense your tone in a text box.

A Merlin would have a pale/white throat with no streaking, and would typically have more pointed wings. I think there is also something with the banding in the tail, and there seems to be a tendency for them to have darker tips on the primaries and some of the secondaries. These would appear to be Sharpies.

I'm sorry, @Kevin!  It wasn't meant to be rude.   We were in a hurry to head out this morning so my response was terse, not intentionally impolite.

 

 

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I can ID the Merlins when they are perched, but not in flight.  There were "Hawk Watchers" calling out the species and they mentioned the Merlins are super-fast and have obviously pointed wings.  So I suppose all the ones I didn't catch with my slow auto-focus were the Merlins.  🙄

 

Edited by floraphile
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I don’t understand why people are talking about plumage features for identifying Merlins vs accipiters. In the field most of the time plumage details will be irrelevant and the identification will be based on shape and flight style. Shape and flight style are VERY OBVIOUSLY different when in the field while subtle differences in plumage can be incredibly difficult to discern

Edited by AlexHenry
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3 hours ago, AlexHenry said:

I don’t understand why people are talking about plumage features for identifying Merlins vs accipiters. In the field most of the time plumage details will be irrelevant and the identification will be based on shape and flight style. Shape and flight style are VERY OBVIOUSLY different when in the field while subtle differences in plumage can be incredibly difficult to discern

Good point.  I look at the plumage because I am inexperienced when it comes to raptors in flight.  I can usually tell whether it's a falcon or Accipiter by the shape and flight style, but I can't tell which species it is without a photo or really good views of the plumage (e.g. Merlin vs Kestrel or Cooper's vs Sharpie).

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1 hour ago, The Bird Nuts said:

but I can't tell which species it is without a photo or really good views of the plumage (e.g. Merlin vs Kestrel or Cooper's vs Sharpie).

This is true, exactly my point - the differences between the two common accipiter species are quite subtle, but when a Merlin flies by, you’ll know it sure isn’t an accipiter

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7 hours ago, AlexHenry said:

I don’t understand why people are talking about plumage features for identifying Merlins vs accipiters. In the field most of the time plumage details will be irrelevant and the identification will be based on shape and flight style. Shape and flight style are VERY OBVIOUSLY different when in the field while subtle differences in plumage can be incredibly difficult to discern

What specific features would you look for @AlexHenry?

 

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1 hour ago, floraphile said:

What specific features would you look for @AlexHenry?

 

I'm far from an expert here but: The very good Cornell Academy course on raptor ID includes this excellent slide on body proportions (I've included the example of the sharpie for how it looks put together. So shape is different - the really long tail of the accipiters is even longer than you might think. Same goes for falcon wings. 

Flight style us different too, with the accipiters mixing flapping and gliding and Merlins flapping frenetically like a bat out of hell.

I'll add unhelpfully that this is one of those things where you'll know it when you see it. (At least in my experience.)

Screenshot_20211018-193845.thumb.png.131a3ccb8583e30e1952c86cca42b440.png

Screenshot_20211018-193931.thumb.png.292e24e9e2369bd8377a8dc319c31302.png

 

Edited by PaulK
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4 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

Also referencing Cornell / @PaulK's diagrams, accipiter tails are substantially longer in comparison to the body than falcons or buteos.

Which is also why RSHA is referred to as an accipiter-like buteo

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On 10/18/2021 at 12:28 PM, AlexHenry said:

I don’t understand why people are talking about plumage features for identifying Merlins vs accipiters. In the field most of the time plumage details will be irrelevant and the identification will be based on shape and flight style. Shape and flight style are VERY OBVIOUSLY different when in the field while subtle differences in plumage can be incredibly difficult to discern

I was talking about the plumage because we were looking at photographs, and people had mentioned the shape, at least of the wings.  Not to take away from the importance of flight style.

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