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Hi all,

I'm excited to have found this forum.

Yesterday (18 April), my wife spotted this bird perched on the support for our bird feeders. We've never seen anything like it. It sat there for a long time without moving much. I didn't get very good pictures because I was afraid I'd spook it. Consulting my National Geographic field guide book, I thought it most closely resembled the picture and description of the Northern Harrier. When I sent the photos to my birding friend, he said it was a Cooper's hawk. Doing more online looking, I'm more and more thinking that it was probably a sharp-shinned hawk. It was pretty small for a hawk, though it was sort of rounded out--I'm guessing it was puffed up. Anyway, the descriptions we read about the sharp-shinned hawk seem to match especially well: It likes to take birds at feeders and plucks prey before eating them. We've noticed this spring at least three different "kills" around the yard, but each time it's just the feathers--no flesh or bones other than the wings.

We live in Sterling, Nebraska (southeast corner of the state), and we see lots of red-tailed hawks in the countryside around. This bird was quite a bit smaller than one of those--maybe about the size of a laying hen.

Brett

Northern_Harrier__1.jpg

Northern_Harrier__2.jpg

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Posted (edited)

Welcome to the forum!

Adult Sharp-shinned Hawk is correct.  Note the dark nape (back of the neck) and the small round head.  Cooper's Hawks have lighter gray napes that contrast with their dark caps and they have larger, blocky heads.

Edited by The Bird Nuts
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