Posts Tagged ‘Cooper’s Hawk’

Northern Goshawks-problems and pitfalls

October 25, 2014

We are getting into that time of year where well-manned hawk watches begin to see the occasional Northern Goshawk. Here in Connecticut, they are a late migrant, generally occurring in late October into November – all reports are typically of juveniles and not adults (I’ve never seen an adult away from the breeding grounds in CT).

Our well-known, in-state watchpoints (Lighthouse Pt. and Quaker Ridge) are manned everyday, all day, at this time of year and there are few reports of Northern Goshawk. The math is simple. Goshawks are uncommon.

Goshawks are  big buteo-like birds, impressive to see both during the breeding season and on migration. They are also frequently misidentified. The time-honored identification pitfall being big Cooper’s Hawks –  it is these birds that you are likely to see  at Hawkwatches in September; in your backyard, attacking birds at your feeders; or just hanging out at Hammonasett in winter. Could you see a Northern Goshawk in September, in your backyard, or at Hammonasett in winter. Sure, it’s possible…but really, it’s just a big Cooper’s Hawk. CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE.


Juvenile Northern Goshawks (left) and Cooper’s Hawks (right) (Julian Hough). Large juvenile female COHA can be very similar to NOGO, but note the broader body, tail and wings of NOGO. Underpart markings are variable in both, but typically heavier, darker and more extensive in NOGO.

We’ve all made that mistake, been spooked initially by that huge female Coop’s, but when you finally see a Goshawk, it’s often a case of “You know it when you see it”.


30th January 2011 – Guilly-not!

January 30, 2011

After a quick run in the morning, I was busy devouring an “everything” Bagel and  was looking after Alex when the “bat-phone” went off. Greg Hanisek’s name came up on caller id. which instantly sends a message to the brain that could result in “joy” or “stress” hormones being deployed by my autonomic nervous system. Which one gets released depends on a) what it is that he is looking at, and  b) how far away he is from your house! He told me they had found a Common Murre (aka Guillemot) at Hammo. Cool, alcids are rare in Long Island Sound, but I’ve seen plenty of them in the homeland, so I wasn’t as excited as Greg sounded. It was only when talking to Frank Gallo via cell phone, as he watched it swimming into the distance,  that I learned  it wasn’t on the State list!!!  They occur in Rhode Island waters 40 miles away, yet apparently one had never made it into CT waters. So, a real mega for the locals!

Pic by Keith Mueller here:

With the Guillemot, now a Guilly-NOT, I took advantage of Sandy and Alex visiting parents in Bloomfield, to take a quick solo-run down the local beaches from West Haven-Woodmont to see what I could find.

The boat ramp at West Haven was devoid of birds and then looking over the snow bank, I discovered why..

Not a good day to be a Pigeon! Juv. Cooper's Hawk munching away!

With a superb display of prowess and fieldcraft (aka luck!) I managed to fire off 200 images as this bird picked and plucked away. Amazing!!

After that, it was rather lack-lustre..loafing gulls and brants and a few horned grebes around Woodmont, but little else…certainly no alcids!

Picturesque Woodmont..haunt of my only CT Harlequin way back when