On the identification of the bird, firstly, if you will notice, the rounded tail, just visible in this shot.
|MY WHAT LARGE TARSI YOU HAVE!|
Secondly we see thick tarsi (shin-bones) on this bird. A SHARP-SHINNED HAWK has very skinny, pencil-like shins, hence the name.
|Pale Head= Very Young?|
Now that we have at least two diagnostic field marks we can safely call this a COOPERS HAWK. For me, a lot of the interest in this bird is in ageing it. The brown and white spots on the back along with the pale eye color and very pale head indicate that it is a juvenile. Along with the male I saw early in the year in this same tree, and the female I saw in it several times as well, I feel it is safe to say that perhaps those same two birds, or at least a pair of Coopers Hawks, nested in the very close vicinity. (Or maybe it's a good hunting perch?)
After a quick google search I couldn't find any Coopers Hawks with heads as pale as this. It could be a trick of the light, but I wonder if the very pale head color is indicative of a very young bird. If not, then could this be a partially leucistic specimen? I would assume that feathers do not darken simply with age, but rather with molt.
|Terror from Above|
A restful morning wasn't on the menu for the Coopers Hawk, as a Western Kingbird started circling the tree, squabbling away. Finally, the accipter abandoned the big cedar and took off looking for a quieter perch.