The answer is easy if you take it logically
I'd like to help you in your struggle to be free
There must be 16 ways to i.d. a sharpie.
16 ways to i.d. a sharpie.
You just look at the head, Ted
How straight's the wing, Bing?
You don't need the tail shape, Mate
Just get on the head.
How fast's the beat, Pete?
You don't need to discuss much
Take a look at the legs, Greg
And get an i.d., free.
-DF [With apologies to Paul Simon]
Okay, you're thinking, he's been out in the sun too long. Well, maybe. Sunday was the Big Sit, after all, and compadres and I were on the Cape May Point State Park hawk watch platform for most of the day (and part of the night). 139 species were detected, by the way, and a full report is to come from Tom Reed, who has annually orchestrated this insanity. And there is a heck of a hawk flight going on right now (Monday morning), under this stationary frontal boundary right over Cape May that seems to be keeping the birds low, and of course I had to watch some of that after the meadows walk before relegating myself to the more usual office work.
Anyhow, enough people ask about telling Sharp-shinned Hawks from Cooper's Hawks that I'm posting below a summary slide from one of our hawk i.d. workshops. With any bird you should use multiple field marks, but with sharpies and coops, why not use 16? Or as many as you can see.
I have a favor to ask, though - if you find this info helpful, and like our blogs in general, and are not yet a Cape May Bird Observatory member, would you please consider joining? You can join on line - just hit the link and scroll down, or you can print and mail a membership form, or join at one of our centers. CMBO members (only) are welcome to print the below slide. Your membership supports our conservation, education and research efforts. If you are already a member, thanks!
Coming next: "If you can't be with the bird you love, love the bird you're with!" (Apologies to Steven Stills, and credit to Virginia Rettig.)
[Click to enlarge, then right click to print (CMBO members ONLY.]