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Raptor Quiz # whatever, lost track

posted by Jerry Liguori at
on Sunday, November 18, 2012 


My friend Bryce Robinson took this photo and suggested it make a good quiz.....what do you think it is? And, can you say to a specific age?

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11 Comments:
Blogger Mia McPherson said...

Ok, I'll stick my neck out there and risk making a fool of myself. 2nd year male Northern Harrier?

November 18, 2012 at 2:38 PM  
Blogger Kenny Frisch said...

I'll put myself out there- 2nd year 'Prairie' Merlin?

November 19, 2012 at 6:26 AM  
Anonymous mike said...

SY Coop

November 19, 2012 at 11:51 AM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...

No need to worry about "sticking your neck out".....I appreciate the responses by the brave people willing. I had to answer to Bryce originally and have 4-5 requests a day for raptor ID's in my inbox. I understand the "pressure", but love to discuss ID and hawks in general.

It interesting to see who responds after thinking about this. No need to worry, even quizzers are wrong sometimes...seen that online enough to know.

November 19, 2012 at 4:06 PM  
Anonymous Jerry said...

No need to worry about "sticking your neck out".....I appreciate the responses by the brave people willing. I had to answer to Bryce originally and have 4-5 requests a day for raptor ID's in my inbox. I understand the "pressure", but love to discuss ID and hawks in general.

It interesting to see who responds after thinking about this. No need to worry, even the quizzers are wrong sometimes...seen that online enough to know.

November 19, 2012 at 5:19 PM  
Blogger Kenny Frisch said...

Sorry about that last comment. I was posting for Jerry since he had said his comments weren't getting through. I guess one did.

November 19, 2012 at 5:25 PM  
Blogger Tim Avery said...

It's either a Second Year Cooper's Hawk or Sharp-shinned Hawk. The primaries are still brownish, instead of slate-blue-gray.

I'm going to go with Sharp-shinned even though I'm probably wrong. It will be nice to hear how to separate those two from this angle.

November 20, 2012 at 8:19 AM  
Blogger Cliff Weisse said...

I'll take a crack at it. I'll suggest it's a Northern Goshawk based on apparent pale back and "wavy" tail bands with pale border. I'll stick with sub-adult for age based on two generations of feathers that both look worn.

Cliff Weisse

November 20, 2012 at 9:36 AM  
Blogger Jeff Cooper said...

It's a very tough angle and the lighting from above obscures the color and pattern of the upper wings and scapulars. Great photo for a quiz. I may end up wrong, but hopefully I'll get an "A" for diagnostic effort :)
The tail makes me think accipiter, appears long and banded and seems to be missing the obvious rump patch for a Harrier. Although the loose/flimsy primary tips seems more Harrier than accipiter. However, the wing position doesn't seem to show the raised shoulders expected for Harrier. The color makes me think juvenile or subadult. I'm going to rule out Sharpie because the wings seem too long, not stocky enough or rounded enough in the secondaries. Tail seems broad for Sharpie as well. The trailing edge of the wings seems straight so it makes me think Cooper's Hawk. I would think Goshawk would droop a little more from shoulder to tip. I can't tell if the banding in the tail is really uneven or just looks that way because of position and angle. Uneven tail bands would make me think Goshawk. I'm tossing between Cooper's and Goshawk, but won't be surprised if it turns out to be a Harrier and I'm just too blind to see an obvious white rump patch. Final (and clearly a) guess: Cooper's Hawk

November 20, 2012 at 10:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a very hard angle to distinguish but my guess is an adult light morph Gyrfalcon? Wings are long and broad-based, Tail seems long with fine dark barring. Primary tips are blackish. Almost looks like there are jesses on the feet like it's someone's falcon?

Posted by Rachel LeBlanc

November 22, 2012 at 4:36 PM  
Blogger Jerry Liguori said...


The quiz photo is an adult Goshawk. Overall bluish color (not gray-blue), tail pattern (bluish with narrow black bands), and tapered wings all fit. But, it is an older adult, the browner feathers are retained, faded adult feathers making the bird at least 2 years old. If you note, almost all Goshawks in the their first adult plumage have replaced nearly all or most of their flight feathers, so they only have a few browner feathers replaced, but this bird's wings have more browner feathers than bluish, which would be more typical for an older adult than for a first adult plumaged bird. Also, the brownish feathers lack the boldly banded pattern of juvenile feathers.

I think the main reason the quiz is difficult is because people are not as familiar with Goshawk as they are with the other accipiters. A few people mentioned the wavy tail bands, but that is a juvenile trait that does not pertain to adults. However, the tail bands are muted (bands are not clear and distinct), which is typical of Goshawks and not the other accipiters.

Another thing, I noticed the word "sub-adult" used for an accipiter….I keep meaning to get to a blog post on this and similar topics, hopefully soon…..but, accipters in their first adult plumage are considered "adults" even if have retained juvenile feathers because the overall plumage is identical (or nearly) to older adults, and there are many that do not retain juvenile feathers. A "sub-adult" bird has a plumage that differs clearly and is distinct from juvenile and adult.

Thanks for participating, a few people have sent me quiz photos, which I will post soon.

November 23, 2012 at 10:20 AM  

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