West Seattle wildlife: From the ‘name that bird’ file…

Bird Watcher Newbiessent that photo. Sometimes we can “name that bird” without asking for community help; this time, nope, we need you. They write:

We just had a feathered visitor near our house on Alki, and not having seen him before wanted to know if it could be posted for those who know for identification. He had an interesting call, which our intrepid hound still wants to locate!

The photo above is as close as we could crop it, by the way. Thanks, if you can help!

22 Replies to "West Seattle wildlife: From the 'name that bird' file..."

  • Mot December 31, 2011 (1:15 pm)

    Coopers hawk.

  • Dan December 31, 2011 (1:18 pm)

    Maybe a Sharp-shinned Hawk.

  • Jiggers December 31, 2011 (1:27 pm)

    It almost looks like a young falcon, but its beak looks to short to be one.

  • elikapeka December 31, 2011 (1:40 pm)

    Looks like a Cooper’s hawk or maybe a
    Sharp-shinned hawk?

  • enviromaven December 31, 2011 (1:46 pm)

    Cooper’s Hawk (?)

  • Steve Z December 31, 2011 (1:48 pm)

    I believe that is a Cooper’s hawk.

  • SJ2 December 31, 2011 (1:53 pm)

    We saw a bird just like this at camp long a few weeks ago. We also wondered what it was. Our best guess was red tailed hawk after searching through a bunch of photos.

  • Kristin December 31, 2011 (1:58 pm)

    Hey, we’ve been seeing that guy (or maybe a cousin) over here in the south end of arbor heights near white center! We’ve seen him (or her) off and on for a couple weeks, sitting on our fence or in our tree. Yesterday he tried to fly though the front window but seemed to be okay afterwards. Really pretty bird!

  • Enid December 31, 2011 (2:04 pm)

    Either a Cooper’s or Sharp-shinned hawk – but leaning toward the latter. Size would provide a more definitive answer, as Cooper’s hawks tend to be larger birds.

  • Lauren December 31, 2011 (2:20 pm)

    I agree with Enid. It looks like the sharp-shinned hawk in my book: Birds of Seattle. Cooper’s Hawk is not in this book so must be less common in Seattle. Sharp shinned are smaller 12-14 inches according to the book with females a bit larger.

  • Desertdweller December 31, 2011 (3:57 pm)

    The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has the best comparison between the two birds:


    I would guess this is a Sharp-shinned Hawk based on its center of gravity, but the color of the bird’s nape is the best field-mark between the two birds. Even though SSH’s are usually smaller than CH, it’s hard to tell unless you see them both often or side-by-side.

  • Sage & Michele December 31, 2011 (4:05 pm)

    Just saw this bird a couple hours ago in Sunrise Heights! Noticed white feathers drifting through the air, looked up, and there it was, dining on a smaller bird up in our tree. Briefly scampered away from the attention (and dropped its lunch) but came back and finished the meal when it was quiet again. Amazing sight in a city front yard!

  • terre December 31, 2011 (9:35 pm)

    Is this not a kestrel?

  • Julia January 1, 2012 (12:17 am)

    It’s a sharp-shinned hawk. They sometimes come in yards with birdfeeders ( including mine) in order to try to eat one of the smaller feeder visitors.

  • Julia January 1, 2012 (3:13 am)

    I’m another Julia, and I can ditto what Julia just said. We see them occasionally in the winter near our bird feeders.

  • Enid January 1, 2012 (9:55 am)

    Sharp-shinned hawks are frequent hunters here in Arbor Heights. They prey on other birds, and surprise them by attacking horizontally, rather than plunging from the sky as many other raptors do. I’ve seen them swoop down the street, several feet above ground. I saw one take out one of my “crow family” by snatching it right off the fence. They will pursue their target right into and through trees and shrubs.

    Terre, this bird does resemble a kestrel, but please note the solid-colored cap as opposed to the eye-band on the kestrel.

  • linda January 1, 2012 (11:38 am)

    Definitely a sharp shinned hawk, looks exactly like the bird which has been haunting my back yard bird feeder. I was able to get a really close look the last time it visited, stayed in the same spot for about 15 minutes until a pair of crows harried him away. Didn’t expect my bird feeder to be feeding this guy!

  • strange_owl January 1, 2012 (2:59 pm)

    My vote is Coopers. White tip of a rounded tail, dark cap (not hood), general body shape. I find Coopers to be more common WS, at least in my backyard ; )

  • Dana Greenlee January 1, 2012 (5:05 pm)

    I also lean toward Coopers Hawk. After posting this video of a Coopers Hawk walking around looking under bushes in my Highland Park backyard, there was a lively Coopers v. Sharp Shinned debate. http://youtu.be/OFixt7txz4A

  • Cranky Westie January 1, 2012 (7:49 pm)

    OH sweet cheeses in a fondue pot! When is the city council going to mandate bird species in the city of Seattle! It’s just like this City to have unnamed birdlife appearing at unscheduled and dangerously high trees! Where is Mayor McGinn and his prodigious beard on this issue? Why isn’t there a bird clearing house of information? Where is the city wide referendum limited only to people from West Seattle (though, not the recently arrived and certainly not those who have lived here longer than, say, me, for instance)in order to make the city safe for all types of brother and sister coyote and to bring back the mastodon? Can I be the only person in WS ANGRY ENOUGH about this pressing issue of species integration? Thank you for the opportunity to vent my spleen. I hope some day to also vent my gall bladdder.

    • WSB January 1, 2012 (7:58 pm)

      Perhaps after the street-tree ordinance (come hear about that at the Southwest District Council meeting next Wednesday), a street-bird ordinance will materialize. Charging crows for sitting on city-owned utility lines might be a new source of revenue – TR

  • birder January 1, 2012 (10:28 pm)

    Cooper’s are more common than sharpies in Seattle, but this time of year it could be either. I usually judge based on head-to-body size ratio, hard to tell in this photo!

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