Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Coop and a Sharpie

One of the many field marks that one can use to differentiate immature sharp-shinned and Cooper's hawks is the pattern of breast streaking. Cooper's hawks generally have crisp, teardrop-shaped streaks, with a clear differentiation between dark and light areas, so that the overall effect is of a light-colored underside. Sharp-shinned hawks tend to be more mottled with less distinct streaks, so that the overall effect is of brownish underside.

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

Of course, this characteristic should not be used in isolation since individuals vary a good deal. Still, it is a useful identification point in combination with tail shape, wing shape, flight pattern, head shape, or leg size.

How dare you put a band on me!