afternoon snack

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this small falcon, tentatively identified as a female merlin, snacks on a sparrow during an unseasonably warm December afternoon in an apple tree near West Archer Pl. and South Bannock

[update: a knowledgeable commenter identifies this as a sharp-shinned hawk]

Comments

Sharp Shinned Hawk

I do believe this is a Sharp-Shinned Hawk. As I said earlier tonight when I saw you, I have had one bathing in my pond twice this past week. I volunteer for the Div of Wildlife and transport injured raptors to a rehab facility near Boulder and this looks just like a Sharpie:
http://www.1000birds.com/latest20071201SSH.htm
They look a lot like Cooper's Hawks, but are smaller. I have seen a Merlin at the rehab center, and he looked a little different. FYI: Sharpies are also known as 'Sparrow' Hawks. Wonder why? Poor sparrow...
Beth

i'm sure you're right

thanks, Beth, i'm sure you're right; i hadn't seen an image of a sharp-shinned hawk that made the match as clear as the picture you found

also, i saw this hawk again on the 13th in the small trees along Bayaud, where i photographed it in flight, showing its broad hawk wings rather than pointed falcon wings; it seemed bigger than the first time i saw it, but i'm sure it's the same bird; here's a small gallery of photos from both sightings:

http://gallery.me.com/garbanzito#100081

Sharpie

I wonder if we had the same hawk? I am sure we must have. I have a couple pictures, too, but not nearly as clear as yours.
Also-Cooper's Hawks look very similar and are a bit bigger/taller.
http://www.blog.birdsillinois.com/2006/10/coopers-hawk-accipiter-cooperi...

What I have noticed when transporting them is that Sharpies have a skinnier yellow leg than Cooper's. Cooper's legs are more 'stout'. The name 'Sharp Shinned' is the common name and comes from their very thin, exposed lower legs. Sadly, I had the chance to see a Cooper's up close once. It was electrocuted on the power line above my garage, and was on the ground. The blast had blown one leg off, and the blast exited through it's skull. Such a sad end for a beautiful creature. On a side note, I took the bird to Birds Of Prey in Broomfield. The director there wanted it as evidence in a case she was presenting to Excel Energy to cover lines and protect raptors and other creatures from this horrible fate. Excel never came out and even looked at our power line.
http://d.birds-of-prey.org/index.html

Beth