This was pretty cool, for me at least: I spotted a hawk (?) or some sort of raptor while walking Max this afternoon.

Raptor on the Roof


Unfortunately, not so cool for the local birds.  I chatted with the couple who live in the house next door, who told me that they had seen this bird attack (and presumably eat) a nest of baby robins a while earlier.  It was definitely hanging around, perhaps looking for other tasty treats.  It flew from roof, to tree, to roof again…


… before heading out for good.

Flying Off


Definitely my coolest bird capture so far!  Although at the moment, I’m definitely regretting not having spent some time with our Peterson’s to figure out exactly what kind of bird it is.


12 thoughts on “Raptor

      • I checked my bird book for you, and based on the black banding on the underside of the tail, I don’t think it’s a red-tailed hawk. I think it’s most likely a Cooper’s hawk – it look almost exactly like the drawing.

        • Yeah, we looked and pretty much decided on either Cooper’s or Sharp-shinned. Unfortunately I’m really not sure if the size was more appropriate to the larger Cooper’s or smaller S-s…. I might go back and re-eyeball that gutter to try to estimate the bird size from its height.

  1. O wow! Great bird sighting and nice pics as well! I’ll have to go home and pull out my bird book, I’m very curious to see what this fellow is. I’m addicted to watching the Cornell University Red Tail hawk cam to the point where it’s hard to get any work done sometimes. But this bird does not have a red tail, so it isn’t the same, and now I’m doubly curious. I also tend to root for the predators, so I hope this guy got some yummy robin lunch. Although I was also sad when my local chickadee babies got eaten by a crow. Fun sighting!

    • I’m kicking myself for it, but I forgot to look in our book last night. Agh. I am pretty sure it’s not a red tailed hawk, because – as you say – they have that beautiful, vivid tail. (I’ve only seen one in the wild, but it was amazing.)

      I’m not sure how easy the ID will even be. Unfortunately, with the bird in front of a bright sky, my first photo was underexposed, and I bumped up the exposure compensation what I thought was two notches, but turned out to have been 4 (!) so a lot of the fine detail is a little too washed out, particularly on the head. But I’m definitely hoping to be able to give it a name anyway.

      Have you figured it out yet?

  2. Okay, having consulted my bird book, I will take a guess on Sharp-shinned hawk. I think his shins look sharp. No, seriously, I was going to go with Cooper’s hawk, but his tail looks shorter and it’s square, where Cooper’s tail is rounded. Also, his head seems to be a similar shade as his throat and chest, whereas Cooper’s head is distinctly different. What do you think s/he is?

    • So those are the same options I came up with also. (John also mentioned Northern Harrier, but I don’t think so….) I kind of agree on the tail shape, but my book says that the Sharp-shinned hawks are significantly smaller than the Cooper’s … and this guy looked pretty big. I have a hard time estimating bigger birds (since I don’t see that many in person to practice on) but I would have put it in the 18″ range…. although that would make that gutter a pretty huge specimen, wouldn’t it?

      • Size is hard to tell for me also. I’m used to seeing much bigger hawks. Red-tails are really really common around here, and they’re 2x, maybe even 3x as big as this little guy. So, to me, I was thinking, gee that’s a tiny little hawk! I spent some time looking through the falcons, actually, because I thought it was so little it might not even be a hawk. In any case, regardless of what it really is, I love this kind of thing. I like to look things up and try to identify them. Plants too. So thanks for the nerdy fun! :)

        • I re-looked at both the bird book and the gutter this morning, and I think you’re right that it’s a Sharp-shinned Hawk. The gutter is maybe 5-6″ tall – pretty big, but would still make him pretty small. It’s weird, because he looked so huge flying around overhead, but it must just have been the closeness. At any rate – I concur with your decision!

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