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Cooper's or. Sharpie... again

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Hello and yes, this again...  I've gotten much better at telling the difference between these two, but most of the ones I see are perched in my backyard.?  In flight, under variable conditions, is another story.

These two photos were taken at the same location, day apart, this weekend.  Downstate NY.   The first bird was dive-bombing crows very aggressively, and going after them in flight.  It was a powerful flier.   My guess was that it's an immature Cooper's hawk.  The sharp chest markings that fade at the top of the belly also suggest Cooper's.

The second bird looked smaller to me, and its flight style not as weighty, lighter wingbeats.  I watched it dive-bomb some high grasses where  sparrows had been lurking.  Just looked more lightweight in its attack than the other bird the day before. The chest markings, to me, appear to be heavier and extending a bit lower.  My guess for this one would be immature Sharp-shinned.

But I'm really unsure and would like input from others here.  The two photos are heavily cropped and lightened a bit for clearer detail. Thanks for your help.

plantingf (2)plantinga (2)


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3 hours ago, Jerry Friedman said:

If forced, I'd call them both Cooper's, with the pale bellies you mention, sizable head projection, ...

Thanks, Jerry and I see exactly what you mean.  There's really nothing in this photo to suggest a Sharpie, is there.  I'm thinking they might even be the same bird.  Streaking seems a little different but that could just be poor photo artifacts.  And my size observation in the field isn't really worth much on its own.

But I'm disappointed in the consensus because I had a good look at its flight style and at this point, that should be enough for me to differentiate the two.

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Thank you all; I appreciate the responses.  I guess it's one of those birds lol. 

Interestingly we ran the photos through merlin id, and top suggestion for first photo was Coop, and top suggestion for second photo was Sharpie. 

I also found a falconry-related website that claimed male Cooper's have rounder head profiles than females ( I have actually noticed this among my backyard Cooper's).   Also, Peterson's hawk guide says that immature male Cooper's tend to have chest streaking extend lower into the belly than the females.  Wish I had better photo.  Here is the only other one I have of the second bird:



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22 hours ago, Tony Leukering said:

There's plenty in the photos to suggest Sharpie. The sides are strongly marked, rather than mostly pale in Cooper's. The tail appears notched, this feature also suggesting strongly that it is a male.

Thank you, Tony, for these additional observations.

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