Cycle of life – Is this who I think it is?

39CA6170-E071-4CF3-BD0B-FE3284846C4E_1_201_aAt first glance, this hawk sitting in a large tree near our home looked somewhat like a Red-shouldered, a species we see often here. But it surprised us that he just sat there and never moved a bit, even as we got very close. We soon realized why. . . . 1EE7868D-9478-492E-AFBC-1283909EDCE2_1_201_aThe hawk was being ‘buzzed’ mercilessly by at least four loud squawking Northern Mockingbirds, and it looked like he was clutching something in his talons. (Sorry I didn’t videotape this!) The Mockingbirds were clearly very upset and angry so we surmised that the hawk had robbed their nest.8B5FA856-7879-40D7-9161-6EF401E03E77_1_201_aFor several more minutes, the hawk remained on the tree branch, unable to fend off this dive-bombing attack, all the while clinging tenaciously to his prey. Finally the hawk flew off with his catch, the Mockingbirds in hot pursuit!F2E1CB7F-D6F9-431E-B05D-1A18E736F275_1_201_aOnly when I later looked at these photos on my computer could I see that indeed the hawk’s prey appeared to be a young bird. I also realized the bird’s coloring was not that of a Red-shouldered. The blue-gray head and wings made me think maybe it was a Cooper’s Hawk?! But no, the hawk’s distinctly red eyes didn’t seem right either.

I’m hoping one of my readers will give me an accurate ID!  Is this by any chance a Sharp-shinned Hawk??

28 thoughts on “Cycle of life – Is this who I think it is?

    • So glad to hear your perspective, AB. You’re one of the experts I know I can count on, even though your birds in Australia may differ from ours in N.A. Thanks for your vote of confidence!

    • Thanks, Berny. Looking at the range of both hawks, it seems much more likely to be a Cooper’s. And… apparently both Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned adults have red eyes after all! ☺️ We have to keep watching for him now.

  1. Great sighting! Differences between Coopers and Sharpies are difficult, one ID tip is the eye is closer to the beak in a Cooper’s and their heads are stockier to their bodies than the Sharpies. It is difficult to tell with your photos, wish we could see the tail to spy additional differences. I’m leaning to a Cooper’s with the head/eye shots you captured. Where is HJ/Avian101? He’ll know!! 🙂

    • Thanks so much for your very helpful and detailed reply, Donna! So much good info. I also posted this in a Facebook group on Raptors…. most lean toward Cooper’s Hawk. I really hope to see this bird again in our tree, and will try to get some better shots.
      Lol… Hope to hear from HJ and hear his input! ☺️

  2. Great shots, Carol! I’m inclined to vote for the Sharp-Shinned Hawk as you thought too. 🙂

  3. Incredible photos, Carol! They are beautiful!

    I feel, from the looks of the feather colorings, chest, feet, etc., that it is a Sharp-shinned hawk.

    Lucky you for being able to watch this unfold.

    Shabbat Shalom!

  4. I’m glad to see others pitching in with ID’s. I often struggle with ID’ing hawks. I was leaning towards either Sharp-shinned or Cooper’s because of the coloration, shape and size, but I always struggle to tell those two apart. Great job capturing some nice behavioral shots. It’s always fun seeing these things, even when it’s showing us how harsh nature can sometimes be.

    • Thanks so much, Todd. I really appreciate your visit and your input! I’ve learned how similar these two hawks are, though apparently Coopers are much more likely to be here in Florida at this time of year.

  5. I am with the others who favor Cooper’s Hawk, mainly because of the bulky head, but they and Sharp-shinned Hawks are confused all the time, including by myself.
    I’m sorry about the Mockingbird baby…

    • Yes, Tanja, though it only reflects the natural order of things, it’s not easy to witness one creature become the prey of another. I really appreciate your input about the Hawks, and have learned how difficult it seems to be to differentiate them visually – especially from such limited views.

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