Raptor That Visited Brad

From rec.aviation.soaring edited by Wayne Paul

Brad was working in his shop the other day, the door was open and he was waxing the Glidair plug (getting it ready to start laying up mold side 2.) Suddenly a bird flew right through the doorway, swooped right over his head and crashed into the window. Poor thing was stunned, but Brad was able to wrap her in a towel and take her outside by the pond and sat down with her in his lap. A few minutes later she perked up, stood up on his leg, looked around., looked at him, posed for the camera that his wife had grabbed, and about 5 minutes later she flew off into the woods.

The bird was about 9 inches tall, had bright yellow legs, and a bright yellow bump on the bridge of her beak, plus bright yellow irises and dark black pupils.

This was very cool.........not only does Brad get to fly with raptors, but this time he actually got to have one sit in his lap!

What is it?

After reading Brad's description on rec.aviation.soaring my first instinct identified the raptor as an American Kestrel.

However, once I had seen the pictures it became obvious that it is not a falcon, but an accipiter. My guess is that it is either a young female Sharp-Shinned hawk or a small male Cooper's Hawk.

Sharp-Shinned Hawk, Length 10 1/2 inches

Cooper's Hawk - Length 15 1/2 inches

The eyes of both these small hawks vary from wheat-yellow to dark red. Their plumage also varies. The size in the first of the series of Brad's pictures lead me to the conclusion that it is too large to be a Sharp-Shinned hawk; however, Bard assured me that it was only 9 inches tall. So the 9 in height plus its' tail best fits the 10 1/2 inch profile of the Shap-Shinned hawk.

Since this page was originally posted, I have received several emails indicating that Brad's hawk is a passage (less then one year old) female Sharp-Shinned hawk.

Dr Leon Powers (http://www.leonpowers.com) took a look at Brad's pictures and sent me the following response:

"I do agree with the "immature female Sharp-shinned Hawk" assessment on identification.

It is often difficult to distinguish a male Cooper's Hawk from the female Sharpies, but the smallness of the head in proportion to the rest of the body, and the squarish tip of the tail strongly suggests Sharpie to me. But what the heck do I know about it Wayne, I'm just an aging naturalist!"

I would like to say "Thank you" to everyone who have assisted in identifying Brad's hawk.