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More bird I.D. help.

Dan Thiem

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A good friend of mine asked me if I could find out what kind of hawk landed on his back deck. Any FM'ers know what we might be looking at? Front and back view.



The second picture the hawk is perched on a statue bird I think.

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Sorry Dan, I'm just be guessing. I pulled the jpeg over to my desktop and zoomed in, and it looks like something along the lines of a juvenile sharp-shinned or Cooper's hawk. Looks fat like a red-tailed, but they don't show up on backyard decks much, and I think it looks stocky because its feathers are fluffed out.

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A zoom would probably settle this one a lot better. I was amazed that the three birds would sit there with a raptor around until I looked carefully at the second picture.

Most of the raptors that we can see during the summer are far south at this time of the year. Most of the water is covered so birds like the Osprey have a tough time. Most of the land is covered by snow so the Northern Harrier cannot see its mice in fields. The Broad-winged Hawk 'winters' in Patagonia if my memory serves me correctly.

The Accipiters (Sharp-shinned, Cooper's, and Northern Goshawk) have all evolved to go after birds for their meals. This means that they don't have to migrate nearly as far (if at all) to keep their bellies full.

My eyes aren't good enough to see much detail on your picture but the Northern Goshawk seems too big to be in your picture. There also is a Merlin that might fit the size/description of the bird on the deck. They have been known to nest here in Minneapolis so being in a city might be an option. Your friend should try to observe the bird when it is hunting. Also, see if he can hear what it sounds like.

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Yup, realized later that a merlin was a good possibility, too. I'd forgotten they sometimes winter in the northern areas. Good catch you guys. And I think Buzz is right about the size limiting it to the smaller hawks/falcons. But the merlin and sharp-shinned are virtually identical in size, and the female and juvenile merlin is brown streaked much as is the juvenile sharp-shinned. The pose looks a little more accipiterish than falconish to me, but the fluffed up feathers could be doing that. Without a better view, especially of the tail (s-s will have a tail proportionately longer compared to its body than the merlin), I'd say it's a toss-up.

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The thing was sitting on OUR deck, eyeing the little cast iron birds my wife has out there for winter decoration.

This thing was way smaller then even a small Redtail and the markings weren't even close. For the most part it had the coloration of a common house sparrow...didn't see anyting bright, or colorfull on it while it was facing me.

When it flew up and perched on the little iron bird, I could see that it's back was a more uniform darker brown with dime sized white spots on what I suspect would be the back side of the wings?

These hawks are here summer and winter, I didn't really start noticing them until the last 4-5 years. Man, these things can manuver like you wouldn't believe and at really high speeds!

They are over, under, around and onto their prey in seconds and they seem to fly low across the yards and just over the fences and between the houses.

Kinda cool having them around. The dude on our deck was as close as I have ever seen one and I had to quick get the digital and do what I could. I thought I had a really good close up, but when I looked at it, all I could see for the most part, was a real detailed shot of the outside screen!

I don't think the birds and the little rodents around here are very fond of the hawks. grin.gif

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