Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Preditor Arrives...

I was standing in the kitchen and happened to look up as every bird in the yard suddenly took cover; I couldn't see a single bird. Of course, this has happened enough times before that I knew what to do; pick up the binoculars and scan the trees! And, thanks to a little movement, there I found the culprit...a little Sharp-shinned hawk. Here's a lovely shot from Wikimedia:

So, yet another bird for the weekend count! I know it was a Sharpie and not a Cooper's Hawk mostly because of the size. A Sharp-shinned hawk is not much bigger than an robin or a jay...though with all hawks, females are nearly big as large as males. A female Sharp-shinned Hawk could be about the size of a (small) male Cooper's and a large female Cooper's could be nearly as large as a Red-tailed hawk! So what was the other clue? A Sharpie's tale is squared-off...the edges are 'sharp' compared to a Coop's more rounded tail-feathers. Just another play on words to help remember differences!

Here's an interesting montage showing the two birds together...also from the free Wikimedia:
According to size alone, that should be a male Cooper's hawk on the left and a female Sharp-shinned hawk on the right. While it's hard to see here, the slightly longer tail (both physically and proportionally) on the Cooper's has a noticeably wider, pale terminal band. Also, the Coop's head is larger and extends past the bend in a flying bird's wing. Click either bird's name above and see many more photos of each species.

Another tidbit from Bill Thompson III's Identify Yourself : "...the rule of thumb is that Cooper's are the longest accipiter and sharp-shinneds are the most compact. The longer tail and greater head projection of Cooper's make it seem longer than it is wide. The shorter tail and smaller head and proportionally longer wings make sharp-shinneds seem more compact and shaped more like a buteo, such as a broad-winged or red-tailed hawk."

You folks may have seen an online pal's comments here from time to time...or perhaps you've visited one of his websites that I list on the right: Burque Birding or Bosque Bill's Place. I frequent both and find his wealth of information more than helpful and his photographs stunning. Here are some of Bill's hummingbird shots.

At any rate, since we just discussed how difficult it can be for a novice like me to get the hang of two similarly-marked birds, Bill let me include a couple of his videos here, to help show the two little brown, stripy birds I wrote about earlier this weekend.

White-crowned sparrow by BosqueBill:

White-throated sparrow by BosqueBill:

You can find more of BosqueBill's video clips here.
Thanks Bill!!!


Bosque Bill said...

Beverly, thanks for the kind words.

I'm always delighted when a hawk comes hunting in my yard. Folks say something like "Don't you hate it when they catch one of your little birds?" And I say, "No, it's the natural order and aren't they magnificent hunters?"

Another little tip I picked up to help tell the difference between the Cooper's and Sharpie: Though you can't always see it, the illustration above shows it clearly (perhaps even exaggerated a bit.) The tail of the Cooper's is rounded; that of the Sharpie is more squared off (and has corners.) To remember, I say to myself "corners are sharp."

Beverly said...

Are you pulling my leg or what? I said almost exactly those words (about sharp-tailed Sharpies) in my second paragraph! LOL

And yes, I agree; they ARE magnificent hunters!

Thanks again for the use of your two clips. That post was a LOT easier than the one just before it; every time I published it (maybe ten times...trying to get the pics right!), I thought of you and hoped I wasn't being irritating. Thanks for bearing with me...I finally got it the way I wanted it. :)

Anonymous said...

Ooh, I like the sharp tailed has a sharp edged tail trick. Definitely one for the archives.

Bosque Bill said...

No, I wasn't trying to pull your leg. I just missed you saying the same thing - wasn't paying close enough attention, I guess. Mea Culpa.

Beverly said...

Hey SG...did ya see the other ones just below? I've heard 'Huge Hairy' and 'Diminutive Downy' as a way to remember which is which.

WHAT is that called...when ya come up with such things to help with memory? Hummmmmmmm...

Thanks for stopping by!

Beverly said...

Awwwwww Bill, you know I was teasing you. Speaking of Mea Culpa, know what I did today? I sent my other online buddy (Nina @ Nature Remains), my take on her spelling faux pas.

Well, who knew the CORRECT word for scrutinizing information is " pore over the stuff?"

Dang...she was absolutely gracious (as she always is; you can imagine...such a gentle writer, huh?), and told me she had 'pour' there first, too! Who gnu?

I just love learning such stuff! LOL ...and You're the best at keeping me on my toes, thank you very much.

Chas S. Clifton said...

Off-topic, but this story seems like perfect blog fodder for you.

Beverly said...

Well Chas, you're perfectly right. However (believe it or not), I AM trying not to make this a political blog! Still, knowing how bad windfarms can be to birds and bats especially, I've been mulling around a piece. It seems only responsible to TRY to get people to read about the consequences... Perhaps they'd actually think through things BEFORE they build 'em!

Thanks for stopping's always good to 'see' you.