In last week’s post, “Life and death in the backyard,” Harry and I thought the bird we’d seen was a red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus). However, we were not certain and I invited other ideas. Thanks to the comments of excellent birders, we are now convinced that it was a Cooper’s hawk (Accipiter cooperi).
Identifying hawks, especially immature ones, can be quite challenging. We’ve seen Cooper’s hawks several times in the backyard. However, this one seemed larger than the others, and previous hawks have fed on birds and seemed uninterested in squirrels.
I’ve now learned that most hawks are classified as buteos or accipiters. Buteos, which include red-shouldered hawks, are short-tailed and long-winged. In contrast, accipiters such as Cooper’s hawks are long-tailed and short-winged. These characteristics were a major factor in identifying our hawk.
I appreciate the comments from Ann Bowe and her Canadian brother and sister, Mike and Karen Ferguson; Jim McCormac; and Jannine Baker. Thanks to all for a great learning experience.