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Thread: Fast trouble in Fairview

  1. #1
    Supporting Member bullbuster's Avatar
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    Default Fast trouble in Fairview

    Now that the cold snap is past, things are quieting down here in the hood. There has been a falcon taking advantage of the dozen feeders I have out. He usually sits right on top of the feeder, waiting. I know Petunia is now hawk droppings on a tree somewhere. He almost got Thumper too. He's a smart squirrel though and got away by freezing against the tree for 30 minutes.

    I never see him catch anything, but the bloody pile of bird feathers tells the tale. He will come thru about 200 mph, miss, make a big swing up into the air and make another swooping flyby. Oh, and I found a pile of mallard feathers tonight down by the creek.

    I thought he was a gyrfalcon or a peregrine. I got the book out and he doesn't really match anything in the book that I have.

    Any ideas on what he is? I have had trouble getting close enough to get a good photo, but here is the best I have so far.


    Then a nuthatch and Pine Grosbeak had a tussle over some seeds and the Grosbeak grabbed the little guy by the neck and flew off with him. That kinda blew my mind, as Grosbeaks are seed eaters.
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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Goshawk!
    ..........
    ...he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. ~Thomas Jefferson
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  3. #3
    Supporting Member bullbuster's Avatar
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    Default Seems small for that

    I do have a Goshawk here in the spring and early summer. He is a duck eater alright.



    This one seems pretty small and agile compared to that one. They do have the same eyebrows. 12-18" body. Rust colored breast feathers w/ white checking. My bird book doesn't show an immature one, so maybe so. It is close to the description of the Sharp Shinned Hawk, but out of that winter range.

    Thanks for the idea.
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    Male versus female? There is a big size difference.

  5. #5

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    My guess is a sharp-shinned hawk. Must be one that stayed through the winter. He doesn't look big enough to be a Goshawk to me. I would say definitely not a falcon. Has more the look of an accipiter (which means only goshawk's and sharp-shinned hawks in AK). Accipiters have that long rudder like tail. If it didn't have the long tail I might say a merlin (which is a small falcon), but falcons don't have the long accipiter tail. Is the body length approx. 10"-14" or 21"-26"? That would be a clue. Another clue would be the color of the eye. Does it have a red eye or brownish black eye? Accipiters have a unique red color eye that is unmistakable. Merlins are only about 12" long and they have a much shorter tail. When falcons fly their wings are more elliptical also. Accipiters have broader, rectangular shaped wings and the tails are long and rudder like. Hope this helps you out.

  6. #6
    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Northern Goshawk, beyond any doubt, (in my mind). Probably a juvenile female.
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    Supporting Member bullbuster's Avatar
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    Went out back this morning looking for the lost Iditarod dog and found mama hawk. She is eating well. And a N. Goshawk.


    One less squirrel, probably Trisha..
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    Supporting Member bullbuster's Avatar
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    Bushwack, I did not make a note of the eye color, but i will. The notes I took indicate a body size of 12-18", closer to 18". He does have a black beak with a yellow spot at the nostrils.
    When the big Goshawk is here, I can walk right up to him. This guy does not hang around.
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    If it's close to 18" then it's a juvenile Goshawk like IO said.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by bullbuster View Post
    Went out back this morning looking for the lost Iditarod dog and found mama hawk. She is eating well. And a N. Goshawk.


    One less squirrel, probably Trisha..
    Quote Originally Posted by bullbuster View Post

    Bushwack, I did not make a note of the eye color, but i will. The notes I took indicate a body size of 12-18", closer to 18". He does have a black beak with a yellow spot at the nostrils.
    When the big Goshawk is here, I can walk right up to him. This guy does not hang around.
    This hawk is DEFINITELY a goshawk, but it doesn't look like the same hawk as you posted in the first picture. This one looks almost twice as big. But possibly the original picture is deceiving because the bird is perched by a bird feeder which might be giving him a smaller appearance. Juvenile raptors are generally not smaller than adults. On the contrary they usually look bigger because they are wearing their training feathers. Their bodies are about the same size, but their feathers are usually longer, thus giving them more control and lift. As they grow older their plumage becomes sleeker and shorter, thus giving them more speed and maneuverability in tight spaces. Kind of like fighter pilots. The rookies always start out on the bigger and slower jets. As they get better they advance to the smaller, faster models. It is entirely possible that the first picture is a goshawk. Especially since the sharp-shinned hawk usually doesn't stay through the winter. But based on size, color, and shape, that was my best guess. I have seen a lot of sharp-shinned hawks on the Denali highway. They look just like your first picture. However, goshawks are a much more common bird for around here. Good luck figuring it out.

  11. #11

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    I am going to experiment here and see if I can post some pictures. This picture below is a sharp-shinned hawk. I think this looks a lot like your first picture. Note the long tail, red eye, and chest coloration. Also the size of the body seems more similar to your first picture. But again hard to determine size from your picture alone.

    Attachment 57156

  12. #12

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    Also I found this map here showing the range of the sharp-shinned hawk. According to this map, there is a small population of year round residents in the anchorage/southcentral region.

    Attachment 57157

  13. #13

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    Here is a typical northern goshawk for a comparison. This one looks a lot more like the second set of pictures you posted with the bird feathers. To me this bird looks much bigger than the first bird. But again it is hard to tell for sure. It would be nice if you got a picture of the first bird next to something with a known size for reference.

    Attachment 57158

  14. #14
    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Fun thread. Something malfunctioning with your attachments BJ; can't see them, and getting an "invalid attachment" msg...

    Goshawks and Sharp Shinned can be tough to distinguish, and I agree size is probably the best distinguishing feature.

    Reference eye color; my understand is that it's age dependent in accipiters: yellow in first year birds, orangeish in second year birds, red by the third year. No?
    ...he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. ~Thomas Jefferson
    I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief. ~Gerry Spence
    The last thing Alaska needs is another bigot. ~member Catch It
    #Resist

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by iofthetaiga View Post
    Fun thread. Something malfunctioning with your attachments BJ; can't see them, and getting an "invalid attachment" msg...

    Goshawks and Sharp Shinned can be tough to distinguish, and I agree size is probably the best distinguishing feature.

    Reference eye color; my understand is that it's age dependent in accipiters: yellow in first year birds, orangeish in second year birds, red by the third year. No?
    Yes, that is my understanding also. Yellow in juveniles, red in adults, blending in between. Females are often lighter shades of red or orange. But generally speaking I most of the accipiters I have seen tend to show more of a trend towards red. I don't know why the attachments are not working. Any technology gurus out there that can help me out with those attachments?

  16. #16

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    Here is a good link to identifying the sharp-shinned hawk. Looks very similar to the first picture.

    http://www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw/Abo...terIDtable.htm

    Here is another link to a site for sharp-shinned hawk id and a range map showing that some sharp-shinned hawks are year round residents in SC

    http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/S...ned_Hawk/id/ac

    Although, the smoking gun in this puzzle might be the white eye stripe in the first picture you posted. As much as I hate to admit it, sharp-shinned hawks rarely have the white eye stripe above their eye. Your picture is a little fuzzy, but it looks like the white eye stripe is evident. Could be a Goshawk. I wish you knew how big it was. I still think that would be the best indicator.

  17. #17
    Supporting Member bullbuster's Avatar
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    Default Still on the fence

    SharpShinHawkTS3.jpg

    This is a picture I found of a Sharp Shinned Hawk. It looks similar to the first picture. Looking at immature N Goshawks and some of them get me thinking.

    Trying to judge by the green bucket lid, that raptor is smaller than I posted. He does have "eyebrows". A yellow spot on the top of his beak. I'm trying to get a better picture, but he is shy. And that stupid job I have to keep going to isn't helping.
    Matter of fact...this picture has a lot more red on the breast. Head is kinda different too. Still up in the air...back to Google.

    That second hawk I posted was a different hawk. I think there is a breeding pair in the woods here. We have history together. The big ones don't back off when I intervene. Quite a few around here. There is open water pretty close, which has ducks on it. I feed the birds, rabbits and squirrels. And hawks, I guess.

    I appreciate the interest and will get a better pic posted soon.
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    Supporting Member bullbuster's Avatar
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    I just looked at the links BWJ put on. Good pictures and that one of the Coopers Hawk is close also.

    OK, I will pay better attention next time. This is good, I am at the age that I thought I had these birds figured out. Learning everyday boss!
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  19. #19

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    Bullbuster, can you give us a fairly precise measurement on the width of your suet feeder from the first picture? The one off to the right and a little bit lower than the hawk. If you can get a fairly precise measurement of that feeder, we can probably get a pretty good estimation of the length of the hawk. That might help determine if it is a Goshawk or a Sharp.

  20. #20
    Supporting Member bullbuster's Avatar
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    The suet feeder is 5" across and about 24" this side of where the hawk is sitting.

    I also measured the yellow rope and it is 13" from top of clove hitch to bottom of bowline. It is 15" this side of the hawk. He might be quite a bit shorter than I thought. I could stay home from work tomorrow,.... nah ain't gonna happen. Dimmit.
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