Sunday, February 04, 2007

Three Hawks All At Once: Cooper's, Red-tailed, Red-shouldered

There is an old song lyric that goes, “you don’t what you got till it’s gone.” Last week while stalking and photographing the male Cooper’s hawk, two hawks soared overhead. Instinctively, I pointed the camera and shot – my philosophy is shoot to journal the bird and identify later. Well, I finally got around to examining the photos.
And what a prize! While I had a Cooper’s hawk perched 20 feet above me, I had a red-shouldered hawk and a red-tailed hawk overhead at about 200 feet. Take a look at the first photo (remember to click on the photo to see an enlarged photo); here are the classic orange chest, rufous shoulders underneath, and tail with broad black bands with narrow white bands of the red-shouldered hawk. Similar to the Habitat’s recently observed pair of red-shouldered hawks.
Take a look at the second photo; here are the classic light underside, bold belly band, dark throat, dark terminal band (that is, the outer edge) on wings of the red-tailed hawk, and, of course, the red (no bars) tail. The dark throat is a characteristic of red-tails from eastern Canada, which do migrate south into the United States for the winter.
The third and fourth photos were taken less than one second apart, with the two hawks flying counterclockwise in the photo. In both photos, the red-tailed hawk is in the upper part of the photo. The differential in the last two photos is the red tail of the red-tailed hawk (which washes out to near white from the sun in the last photo) and the dark-light barring of the red-shouldered hawk.
So literally at the same time, we had Cooper’s, red-tailed, and red-shoulders hawks in the Colvin Run Habitat.

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