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Posts Tagged ‘Sharp-shinned Hawk’

“Environmental bird portraits” is a fancy way of saying that I was not able to get close enough to my subjects to isolate them and fill the frame. Although that is true, I like the way that these three images give you a sense of the environment in which the birds were found. Often I try to get so close enough to my subjects with a telephoto or macro lens that I lose sight of the “big picture.” These images, all of which were taken last week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, give you some sense of the variety of birds and environments that I encounter when I am out with my camera.

The first image shows a pair of colorful Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa) that took off as soon as they detected my presence (and I was a long way off from them). The male is the one that is in front, with the female just behind him.

The second image shows a Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus), the smallest hawk in the United States. This bird was the toughest one for me to identify and I had to seek assistance from some experts in a Facebook bird forum. There was some discussion about whether this was a Sharp-shinned Hawk or a Cooper’s Hawk, another small hawk, but prevalent view was the it was the former.

The final image shows a male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) as he sang out loudly from atop a tree. Male blackbirds are definitely not shy and the volume of their enthusiastic songs and calls is amazing, i.e. really loud.

Wood Duck

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Red-winged Blackbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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On Monday I spent a good amount of time watching this hawk in a distant tree at Huntley Meadows Park (and, alas, missed the shot when it flew away). There is something simultaneously beautiful and fierce about hawks and eagles that never fails to attract me. Clouds covered the sky for the entire day and there just wasn’t a whole lot of light to work with. That’s why this image has an almost monochromatic look, which makes the yellow color of the talons and the eye stand out even more prominently.
I think this is a Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo  lineatus), but would welcome a correction to my identification.
Update: A Facebook friend, who is a much more experience birder than I am, has suggested that this may be a juvenile Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus), while others say it is probably a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii ). Again I am proving to be identification-challenged.
Red-shouldered Hawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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