Tell Tail Hawk

I’m back with another request for bird identification help.  I shot this Hawk while on a shoot along the Mississippi River up in the Quad Cities.
Credit Island Hawk

To be more specific, I took this on Credit Island in Davenport in the December 2012 timeframe.  Yeah, yeah, I’m waaaay behind but the good news is I’ve been able to start processing again (now completed Jan and Feb of 13 in a desperate attempt not to fall more than two years behind).  Enough about my struggles … we have a bird to talk about!!!

Credit Island Hawk

This particular Hawk was a surprise find while out on the island looking for Eagles.  They tend to congregate along the Mississippi providing an excellent opportunity to expend the portfolio.  Having hit our standard shooting spot, we took our normal loop through Credit Island.  The Eagles along that stretch of the island have figured out they can hunt in peace in the large trees across the channel so pickings there are usually thin – from the Eagle opportunities.  That doesn’t mean there isn’t opportunities for other feathered friends and sometimes even those with fur.

Hit the jump to read more about this Hawk.. oh, and my guess to what it is

Credit Island Hawk

It is the fur bearing friend that led me to this particular capture.  I was actually taking a picture of a black squirrel hanging out near the road.  Not sure where you might be from, but where I grew up they didn’t have black squirrels – just the standard grays and browns so it is always a treat to catch one of those rare black ones from behind the camera.  Before Linda weighs in, I guess the classification of “rare” depends on your stomping grounds.  Apparently if you are FROM the Quad Cities they don’t hold the same level of excitement.

Credit Island Hawk

Anyway, while taking pictures of said black squirrel, the Hawk you have been looking at flew right past me and landed in the tree about 50 yards away.  Black squirrel.. Hawk.. black squirrel.. Hawk… bla… sorry squirrel.  My attention turned to the Hawk.  One thing for sure, either that Hawk’s attention was on me or that squirrel was looking more like dinner.  It just sat there with its piercing eyes staring me down.   I was having difficulty getting the focus through all the branches and decided to see if I could close the distance between us. Move up 5 yards, stop and take some shots.. move up another 5 yards fire a few more off an repeat. By the time I got to 20 yards away the Hawk was clearly focused on me and had forgotten about the squirrel.  Guessing the glass from The Beast was causing some agitation.  Not one to inflict undue stress on our feathered friends I planted and intended to hang out and just observe for awhile….

Credit Island Hawk

best intentions gone awry.  All of sudden this Hawk decided I WAS DINNER and launched at me.  It was like a Sandhill flashback (link here).  All flustered I tried to get focus and snap a few off – you might notice there are no shots from that sequence due to the fact none of them were worth a damn unless you like those blurry artsy shots.  Looked like some ghastly brown shaded ghosts flew across my sensors.

Credit Island Hawk

Good news, I don’t have to delay any longer.  My initial research brought an early conclusion that this was a Broad-Winged Hawk.  This was based on a Google searches in the “Hawk three stripes tail” range that came back with a lot of hits on that particular species.  It is difficult to tell when you do not have shots from different angles… is the breast speckled, all white, reddish on the sides.. all factors that could sway the identification.  As a backup I had Linda post a picture on the Illinois Birding Facebook page asking for help.  The first responder nixed the Broad-Winged variety based on season (it doesn’t Winter in Illinois) and the length of tail – annoyingly he didn’t give an alternative.  During the course of this post a number of additional responses came in that unanimously pointed to the Cooper’s Hawk.  I had originally ruled that out because the reference showed them as having more of a grey coloring.  It did match the region though.  A little more investigation on the reference sites did verify the grey for the adults but then noted the juvis are more brown – perfect.  I’d love to hear your opinions (affirms or contradictions).  For now I’m just elated that I have a new bird to check off my list (either the likely Cooper’s or the original guess of Broad-Winged either way is a win for me).

Hope you enjoyed the post .. now off to figure out what mischief Raven is getting into.

4 thoughts on “Tell Tail Hawk”

  1. That’s an excellent point – turns out that Linda’s submission on the birding website is drawing quite the discussion. Almost unanimously the first responses were all Coopers (along with an implied tone of I should have known) but Linda showed me today that there has been a lot of discussion since then with the later entries are now saying Sharp-Shinned as you pointed out. The Winter range fits for sure and the Cooper’s is suppose to have a well rounded tail. I am going to have Linda put the last shot (side profile) on the birding page and see if that gets better confirmation – Thanks for weighing in – right now I’m going with your suggestion and the later responses on the website


  2. Again, again, where was Linda when she could have taken shots of you freaking out with a hawk attacking you! Where, oh where?!

    If you had brought Raven you could have gotten fantastic shots (well, at least one shot) of the hawk swooping down, talons out.

    Oh, and since you took these shots two years ago and are just posting them now, I don’t feel quite as bad being so behind on your posts.

    Cool pics, though, of a cool character.



  3. She was in the car … correct that .. she was sitting in the WARM car while I was out braving the elements for my craft. She also knows if she takes those shots I might forget to rid photo shoot hiking path of snakes in the future.

    For the record, you are now on Linda’s list for even considering putting her baby in harms way for a shot – fact of the matter is he would see the Hawk and emit his siren scream that would drop that Hawk on the spot!

    Ummmm, not sure if that excuse holds up in the blogging world, but I will cut you some slack with all the work you did getting Sliver out.


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