Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hawk Happenings At The Hedge

Late Autumn Visit
Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary

Chicago, Illinois

"Shhh, listen. It's too quite. Where are all the birds?"
Our conversation just before .... a gasp and this enthusiastic whisper.
'There is a hawk in that tree!'
The hawk had it's kill in it's claw and hardly paid attention to us.
We stood breathless, watching.

It was hard to tell what it was eating.
Our guess ... a mouse meal.

Oops, most of the mouse fell to the ground.

With in seconds the young hawk followed to retrieve.
We believe this hawk to be an immature Coopers Hawk.
Positive ID comments welcome, and appreciated.

During our visit we came across several hawks.
Every time we thought, 'Hmm... it's quiet' ... there was another hawk.
The second sighting was in this beautiful tree.

This hawk also appears to be young.
It's tail is shorter. It has a white throat and chest.
My guess is juvenile Broadwinged Hawk.
Apparently they hang out in groups during migration at perspective lookouts.
Magic Hedge may be a migration lookout in their path.

I'm not sure why, but we were not considered a threat to this hawk.
We were allowed to quietly stand very close to this tree to watch and photograph.
The hawk shared a variety of expressions and personality.
Here it is watching a Thrush, possibly Wood.

One of the many brave birds that bounced, skipped and fluttered
throughout the tree with the hawk in it. The Thrush is watching
the hawk as the hawk watches it.

Toe tapping patience.

Claw flaunting ... the better to catch you with my pretty.

A few choice tweets for the hawk.

Guesses for the Thrush are Wood, Hermit, and Swainson's.

Last but not least ... believed to be another Coopers Hawk.

It was an exciting day at Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary.
We were blessed with tolerance, patience and beauty during our visit.

I find identification difficult in both the Hawk and Thrush families.
I would appreciate any thoughts, tips or ID's.


  1. Cooper's for sure based on eye color and color pattern. The other hawk looks like a Red-tailed to me. The bold spots make me think Wood Thrush, but I've never seen one before.

  2. I concur with both imm. Cooper's IDs. Key features are shape of the head (more square), the two-toned effect of the head based on the fact that the nape and neck are paler than the crown, and the rounded tail with a broader terminal white band. Also relatively finer, neater, streaking on breast. Overall shape and size (short wings, long tail, and long legs ID as Accipiter). The other hawk also strikes me as an immature red-tailed hawk due to the clearly defined belly-band, white chin, and heavy mottling on the wings. But harder to tell without being able to judge size or see other field marks. Shorter tail, relatively broader wings, and chunkier appearance mark it as a Buteo. The thrush is really difficult to tell colors and subtle shading and without seeing the pattern of the back and top of tail, but my first impulse screamed Wood Thrush when I saw it.

  3. Great shots by the way! Thinking on the thrush, the roundness, boldness, and extent of the breast spots. Most Swainson's I've seen have less bold rounded spots and more of a glowing buff-yellow wash in between, but as the color is hard to judge and there might be some wash I wouldn't rule it out. Hermit is also possible I suppose, but doesn't really strike me as Hermitish.

  4. Debbie, what an amazing day for you at Montrose! Your photos are fantastic and the narrative wonderful, as well. I visited Montrose today and saw one Red-tailed. Others told me that there were 2 Red-tailed and 1 Cooper's in the same tree! So glad you are back blogging. A fabulous post! I've missed you :)

  5. Better view on my home monitor. Definitely an immature red-tailed hawk.

  6. Wowza, Debbie! Your photos are stunning! Exceptional post.

  7. I concur with the IDs - juvenile Cooper's - appears to have a large head, plus the thin dark streaks on the flanks, relatively "broad" terminal band on tail. Juvenile Red-tail - belly band is a key. Wood Thrush - nice prominent spots on breast. Not to mention for all of these - nice shots. I have yet to get a perched Coops - some in flight, and the eastern Red-tails take off whenever I point a camera their way

  8. I REALLY appreciate the help with the ID on the Coopers, Red-tailed Hawk and Wood Thrush. Thank you, thank you for the views and comments everone.
    It was really exciting to be this close to the hawks today, they were a joy to watch and photograph!