There are pitfalls in all aspects of bird identification, and raptors are certainly no exception. I want to share some pitfalls from time to time (or as often as I can) that I overhear birders falling into. This discussion is in regards to juvenile Goshawks being known as the only accipiter in N.A. to have markings on the undertail coverts. Yes, Goshawks almost always show this, but some juvenile Sharpies and Cooper's Hawks can show streaking on the undertail coverts (see CH photos above, "click" to enlarge).
In Cooper's Hawks, this occurs on birds in the West much more often than on birds in the East. Out West, Cooper's tend to be more heavily marked underneath as well. Also, there are juvenile Goshawks that are lightly marked on the underbody and lack markings to the undertail coverts. Just a note to be made aware of, and something my buddy Pete Gustas and I have talked about recently.
Labels: identification, raptors