Saturday, January 10, 2009

Raptor rapture

Bird-watching is not a hobby I've been tempted to pursue, at least not in the sense of keeping a life-list and going places specifically with species-spotting in mind. I don't even put out a bird feeder, knowing that it would be completely monopolized by pigeons and squirrels.

But I do try to keep my eyes open for interesting birds around here (witness previous posts on pigeons, flickers, hummingbirds and more).

So I was excited when I opened the back door this morning to let Sophie out, and this hawk flew from the ground up to the fence, then waited at least long enough for me to grab my camera.
I'll confess: at first I thought it was a peregrine falcon (we do have those around here, I know) but the head markings were wrong. Then I started looking at raptor ID websites and got more discouraged that I couldn't find anything just like this one. Golly, maybe it's not a raptor at all? Maybe it's just a mutant pigeon?

Happily, I found and was able to get an answer within minutes that it is indeed a hawk of the Accipiter variety, either a Cooper's hawk or sharp-shinned hawk. It would appear the two are quite similar.

I'm just happy to know I wasn't crazy! And to see a hawk hangin' in the 'hood. Eat more pigeons, Mr. Hawk!


  1. I'm a little bird crazy, and I get especially excited when I see a hawk or an owl. I checked out the bird site. It's a good one, but I find my Golden Guide easier for comparisons.

    A possiblity is also a female Northern Harrier Hawk. I think your best bet is the Sharp Shinned Hawk since they feed largely on pigeons.

  2. Yeah, the raptors are special! I didn't use the ID portion of the site, though; I went straight to the forum and posted a photo. Got the accipitor answer from two people immediately, and consensus over the day seems to be sharp-shinned hawk.

  3. Great shot! I love seeing them too. And when I see one that low I assume that some little mousie made a nice lunch for the hawk.

  4. Amazing that he stayed still for you to go get your camera!
    I used to feed the birds and loved having them in the yard but then we started getting feild mice running up the house... that was enough of that.
    Thanks so much for your caring concern for my puppy.

  5. I'd be terrfied. I'm always scared a hawk is going to eat my Chihuahuas. We have an owl who lives in the backyard at night so I don't let them out in the dark alone.

  6. You are the queen of Urban Wildlife Photo Capture! Great shot! We were at Mayfair Park the other day and 2 foxes were romping through the park full of dogs and kids. It was crazy!

  7. Pam, that could be! Though I suspect it was going after a flicker or squirrel, both of which like the marrow bones left behind by Sophie.

    Natashya, yeah, I was surprised, too. Especially since the dog was right there. I do hope your Bella does OK.

    Duck, with a little dog, I'd be worried, too! But that's a very small hawk. He probably wouldn't go after a dog.

    Thanks, Fruitlady! That's pretty weird to see foxes out during the day. They are very bold around here.