Can you help identify this bird?

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This bird was spotted eating a small bird in the Hyde Park area of Chicago. What is it?


  1. #1 amy
    August 19, 2010

    Red-tailed hawk

  2. #2 Patricia
    August 19, 2010

    Look at the stripe. It is a broadwing hawk.

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    August 19, 2010

    I think the necessary distinction here is between Coopers and Sharp Shinned. I’m going with Cooper’s because of the directionality of the stripy stuff of the breast.

  4. #4 amy
    August 19, 2010

    Patricia, I really don’t think so. Broad-wings have blotches, not streaks, on the breast. Also, Red-tails have striped under-wings, as well.

  5. #5 h
    August 19, 2010

    I vote for Cooper’s Hawk, but I don’t know what I’m talking about.

    Where did you see it? I live in HP, too, and have seen a similar bird at 54th and Dorchester.

  6. #6 Nate
    August 19, 2010

    Looks like a Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter lineatus) to me. The shape is generally good for Accipiters, with longish tail and proclivity for bird catching.

    The small bill and rounded forehead suggest Sharpie rather than Coopers.

  7. #7 amy
    August 19, 2010

    No way it is either Cooper’s or Sharp-Shinned. Do a Google image search.

  8. #8 James
    August 19, 2010

    Yes. It probably is a Cooper’s Hawk, and looks to be a juvenile, although the picture leaves a lot to be desired as far as determining any detail.

  9. #9 amy
    August 19, 2010

    I’ll buy that it’s a juv. Cooper’s… Greg, any sense of scale?

  10. #10 Monado, FCD
    August 19, 2010

    The illustrations in my Peterson Flash Guide show Cooper’s hawk with bars on the breast, but Sibley’s Guide shows stripes. The reddish cheeks make it look more like a juvenile Cooper’s.

  11. #11 James B
    August 19, 2010

    It’s either a Sharp-shinned or a Cooper’s, but for each it’s definitely a juvenile bird hatched earlier this year. The young of both species have mostly blotchy brown/tan back/head/wings until they molt into adult plumage
    The juvenile tail is banded black and brown.

    An adult would have a gray head and a little pinkish wash under the breast/chest. Both also have banded black and
    gray tails with a narrow white edge at the tip. Adults
    also have distinctly red eyes and thinnish yellow legs.

    Red tail Hawks and other buteo hawks as well, have feathers that grow further down the legs than these two birds. A
    redtail is not as likely to go after a small bird, but they
    are opportunists. Accipiters like Coops and Sharpies are
    built for fast flight though undergrowth and tree limbs,
    chasing small birds with much twisting and turning, so they
    have shorter wings and longer tails for quick manuevering.

    If I was to offer a choice, I would say it’s a Sharpie due to beak size and head shape, and overall general impression.

    If the picture was less fuzzy… is there a clearer shot
    from a little further away?

    I frequently have Coops in my yard all year, chasing the
    feeder birds/yardbirds, south of Atlanta, GA. Sharpies
    show up in the fall and stay until early spring when they
    migrate back north. I have often seen young Coop’s in the
    yard, it does take a while for them to become competent hunters. It is quite amazing to see an adult swoop in and
    snatch a Cardinal or a Goldfinch off of a bird feeder.

  12. #12 David
    August 19, 2010

    It’s Blagojevich.

  13. #13 Tomato Addict
    August 19, 2010

    I’d say Sharp Shinned or Cooper’s, but it’s really hard to say from that photo. This time of year it could also be an immature male, so it may not look the same as an adult.

    I had an similar encounter (and a great photo-op) in my back yard a few years back:

  14. #14 John Callender
    August 19, 2010

    Immature Cooper’s was the first thing I thought, so I’ll add my vote to that ID. But I think it could be an immature Sharp-shinned pretty easily, too.

  15. #15 Bruce
    August 19, 2010

    Sharp-shinned vs. Cooper’s Hawk can be a tough distinction (especially with only a single blurry photo), but I think this is a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk: fairly distinct white band at tip of tail, narrow, fine dark-brown breast streaks mostly restricted to the upper breast, tawny cheeks, rather stout tarsi. Sharp-shinned Hawk has narrower white tail band, broader more reddish and more extensive breast streaks, smaller head without tawny. Also (assuming this is a recent photo) Cooper’s is more likely in mid August (breeds throughout the midwest).

  16. #16 Phytophactor
    August 19, 2010

    Cooper’s hawks are real common in our area, and the plumage on juveniles does look just like this. Love the way they drop from the top of our big oak tree and just make cardinals disappear.

  17. #17 James
    August 19, 2010

    The posture of the bird is called mantling — that is, crouching over its prey, spreading its wings and tail to shield the prey from the prying eyes of other predators including other birds. This bird is demonstrating a rather loose version, probably due to a lack of practice. I would guess that at this time of summer, this is a very early if not the first kill for this juvenile.

  18. #18 Malcolm Mowbray
    August 20, 2010

    It could well be a Saker’s Falcon – perhaps smuggled back from Iraq?

  19. #19 charlotte
    August 20, 2010

    Thanks for all of your comments. h, I live about 5 blocks from 54th and Dorchester, let us know if you see the bird.

  20. #20 Benton Jackson
    August 20, 2010

    I saw this picture on another web site, could it be the same one?

  21. #21 Rob
    August 21, 2010

    It looks like a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk. The streaks are not all that extensive, and they disappear on the belly, which is often seen on Cooper’s. The legs are not the thin legs of Sharp-shinned. To me the tail looks too long to be a Sharp-shinned tail. I’m also getting the impression of the eye being close to the bill; in Sharp-shinned it is more centrally placed on the head.

  22. #22 Ash
    August 22, 2010

    I’m Spartacus!

    Wait. No. Sorry, wrong question.

  23. #23 Pam
    October 20, 2010

    Can you ID this bird for me? It was in my back yard this morning. We watched it sit in the lake and take it’s bath, and we watch it fish almost every morning.
    Thanks, Pamela