An interesting accipiter in my yard (Hillsboro, OR, 02/20/11)

This accipiter here was the second accipiter visiting my feeders this weekend. The first one was an adult Sharp-shinned Hawk in hot pursuit of a Black-capped Chickadee. He may have gotten it … This one came up empty.

The yellow eyes mean that this is a first-year bird. The interesting aspect is that it is molting into adult plumage with rufous showing on the cheek, neck and of course on the breast. Juvenile white spots remain on the back.

Size-wise, this bird was right in between Sharpie and Cooper’s. What is it?



  1. Looks like a Cooper’s to me from the tail bands that do not meet and with the outer feathers shorter than the inner. Also those tarsi look a bit too substantial for a Sharpie. I’d vote for male (because of size)Cooper’s.


  2. I think I’m agreeing with Linda on this, i.e. male Cooper’s. Size, I believe, is pretty difficult to determine–we don’t know how big the fence is. (In any event, they can approach one another although there is no overlap) Shape: as Linda noted, the inner retrices are longer and, at this time of year they should’ve molted in. Sharpie’s would be all about the same size and squared off at corners; these outer feathers give the Coop’s rounded tail end appearance. Also with the tail, on the UPPER side of the tail, there should not be this broad a pale terminal tip. I think the tarsi are acceptable for Coop. Head shape in this can be a function of posture and I think he’s got it drawn in and down.


  3. I’m sticking with Sharpie based on GISS. If the tail feathers should be molted in by this time, would the tail still appear so short in relation to the bird’s body? I also wonder if the tarsi appear thicker because the bird is so drawn down and squatty.


  4. Looking at Kaufman’s Advanced Birding guide (P.58 on tail patterns), I’m notice that his drawings of juvenile Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned tail patters (from above) differ not only in terminal band width but also in sub-terminal band color. However, Kaufman does not note this in the text. It appears that on the juvenile Cooper’s, the sub-terminal band is one of the darker set of bands. On the juvenile Sharpie, however, the sub-terminal band is one of the lighter set of bands. Does anyone know if this varies? Stefan’s bird appears to show one of the lighter bands for sub-terminal, or will this entire light area become a very wide terminal band, making the sub-terminal one of the darker bands? In this case, though, didn’t the tail just become even shorter :-) Is any of this making sense? I obviously have way too much time on my hands this morning.


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