Hawk ID Please

Hi,   Snapped this attached picture on Sadler Street.  What kind of hawk is this?  I think it’s a Cooper’s Hawk. It swooped down on my cat.  It is eating a blue jay in this picture from our feeder (see talons). It’s about 20” tall.  Thanks! Kim Frashure



  • Coopers for sure Their eyes are yellow till they mature then turn red. I’ve got 3 pair that nest in my neighborhood.


  • I think you’re correct. An adult Cooper’s Hawk has a black cap and you’re bird does. What a photo! Awesome for us to see, not so much for it’s lunch. Thanks for the post.


  • It is often difficult for even an advanced bird watcher to distinguish between a Sharp-shinned Hawk and a Cooper’s Hawk. I recalled a great web page that I discovered when trying to ID a hawk, with tips on the differences between the two species. Looking at your photo, and because as you say, it is eating a jay, I think Cooper’s Hawk. Was it as large as a crow, or more like the size of a dove. If crow, then Cooper’s Hawk.



  • Likely a Cooper’s hawk- especially since it was chowing a bird the size of a Blue Jay.


  • I agree with the others… I’m 90% sure it’s a Coopers. Sharp-shinneds are quite similar and it’s easy to get them confused. Great photograph! Too bad about the jay, but I’m happy your kitty escaped unscathed!


  • I also saw one of these pick of something from my feeder. It was a sparrow, and I was so enthralled to be watching this circle-of-life slaughter going down 5 feet in front of my eyes that I stood and watched until he got annoyed and carried his snack to a tree.


  • It might be a Merlin, the head and beak look like it (dark tip) and it would have a horizontal striped tail. A Merlin is a falcon.


  • I have both a Coopers and Sharp-shinned terrorizing my backyard birds. In the past I saw a Sharp-shinned (the smaller of the two) take down a pigeon, which is about the same size, and fly off with it into the woods behind my house.


  • Agree – Coopers Hawk…. Isn’t it beautiful, great shot! Now you have to worry about coyotes AND hawks when the cat goes out!





  • Hi All, Thank you for your feedback. FYI, Hawk ID from Cornell Lab of Ornithology: “The very long tail rules out a Merlin. Distinguishing between Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s is much more difficult especially without a good view of the nape or tail feathers. I believe from what I can see that the nape is pale. With an adult Sharp-shinned, I would expect to see the dark cap feathers to extend into the rear cheek a bit. I also think I can just make out tail feathers of varying lengths, which would indicate Cooper’s Hawk. Additionally, the body looks barrel-shaped and the legs look relatively thick. All are indicative of a Cooper’s Hawk.” Kim Frashure


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