Coopers & Sharp Shinned Hawks

(Featured illustration image from the awesome site Birdorable! – Jenny)

I work with my Dad. We are both lucky enough to have a window in our one-story offices and bird feeders by the windows. I arrived just a bit early to work on October 5th and just as I was walking to the door a Cooper’s Hawk (14”-15”) was diving towards and just missing a House Sparrow by the feeder of my window. The first time I saw a Cooper’s Hawk I was birding at White Rock Lake in Dallas and a couple of friendly experienced birders there pointed it out for me. Lucky me.  I wouldn’t have even known it was there, known that it had a look-alike in the bird world.

Cooper’s Hawk:

from AllAboutBirds

Same day as the morning swoop with the Cooper’s hawk I was summoned to Dad’s office. There was a hawk in the tree right by his window.  I thought it was the Cooper’s Hawk, back again to try to get a meal. It was a Sharp-shinned Hawk (9”-13”)  The smaller twin cousin to the Cooper’s. This time it was a juvenile. The first time I saw what the bird world calls a Sharpie I was grocery shopping. Mom and I had left before dawn to beat the weekend crowds and as we were crossing the parking lot a Sharpie crashed, talons first, into a Common Grackle (11”-13”).


Sharp Shinned  Hawk:

from AllAboutBirds
The easiest way to tell them apart that I know is by the shape of the tail. The Cooper’s Hawk has a rounded tail and the Shark-shinned Hawk has a straight tail. Size, too can be helpful. The Cooper’s is about the size of a crow and the Sharpie is about the size of a Blue Jay. There are other ways to differentiate the two birds. A great article can be found here: at Project FeederWatch.
This morning the Sharpie was back, by my window, sitting on my bird feeder — no sparrows in sight.
— Melinda

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