Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Here are some photos from a great recent goshawk "experience" at the Cape May Point hawkwatch. 22 goshawks have been tallied so far on the Fall 2010 hawkwatch; I think that all but one so far have been juveniles.

After a few brief, teasing glimpses from afar, we were rewarded with a goshawk right in our faces (!)- this juvenile popped out of the close line of cedars in front of the hawkwatch platform and zoomed by, heading straight for the ducks on Bunker Pond.

While chasing after some teal and shovelers on the water, the gos banked so we had a great look at its upperside. In addition to shape and large size, the bold whitish bars on the greater coverts (the middle part of the inner wing here) and the wavy tail bands are great goshawk field marks (though at this close a range, the bird left NO doubt as to its identity).

After hassling the ducks for a minute, the goshawk flared up and circled a few times over the pond before retreating to a treetop perch. Goshawks often give birders a hard time with identification in the southern part of their range where we don't see them that often and where Cooper's Hawks and Sharp-shinned Hawks are enormously more common. Frequently, big juvenile Cooper's Hawks (and sometimes Red-shouldered Hawks too) are misidentified as goshawks. With a good look though, the reverse identification pitfall can usually be avoided. In this photo, the bird displays a curious shape, somewhat of a hybrid buteo/ accipiter pose with a thick tail and broad wings; experienced hawkwatchers might simply say that this is "the goshawk shape", but in any event, a real goshawk is pretty hard to confuse with a typical common accipiter (a Cooper's or a Sharp-shinned here in Cape May) given a solid view.

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