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Hawk in Medford

Amfretto snapped this hawk on her balcony railing near the Tufts soccer field in Medford this morning. She reports she usually gets to see it hanging out in nearby trees swooping for prey, rather than a few feet from her face.



    Free tagging: 


    Nice catch

    these things are fearless - although take a look at that beak and talons and you know why!

    Nice to see these animals thriving in the area - including the other one mentioned in this comment thread that's at least the third mention of a "neighborhood" hawk on Uhub in the last 2 weeks. There are a couple at the course where I play golf as well - sounds like the various rodent populations better be on the lookout!

    If anyone cares - I think my birdwatching friends identified this as a Cooper's Hawk (looks similar to the one I photographed) - longer tail makes it the Coopers. A shorter tail would lead you to believe it would be a broad wing hawk, but the markings are otherwise quite similar.

    Yes, it's probably a Cooper's Hawk

    They're pretty common around here. Very manueverable and responsive flyers. Built to fly under the canopy of open forest, so they do well in suburban and outer-urban neighborhoods with lots of big trees, hedges, and small "meadow" lawns. We see them a lot in Rosi.

    Btw, although Cooper's can be confused with Broad-winged Hawks, they are much more likely to be mistaken for Sharp Shinned Hawks (and vice versa). But they're bigger on average than both of those species, and while I can't tell exactly how big the hawk in the picture is, it looks like it could be almost a foot and a half from tip of the head to tip of the tail - that's Cooper's Hawk size,

    Another reason it's not likely to be a Broad Wing - that species is strongly migratory, and this time of year almost all of them are down in South America. Cooper's from the far north will move south in the winter, but many which are established in urban areas will stick around for the winter.


    Urban Raptorland

    Medford has a lot of large wild raptors. 15 years ago I would see a couple here and there, but then came the major mast year and the rodent explosion that followed, and suddenly we were late to school in the spring because we couldn't stop watching the aerial territory battles. So they have, of course, spilled over into the 4 square miles of Medford where the people have packed in.

    I have seen the big hawks and these smaller guys, as well as falcons (one was on the North Ave. Overpass, snacking on a completely eviscerated pigeon), and the bald eagle that hangs out on the Mystic Lakes and patrols the river (dove down on some ducklings and waked my kayak, once!). Lots of herons of different species on the river, too.

    Best places to look for them are behind Victory Park, soaring on the thermals in the springtime, and on the lakes/river.

    Not a Cooper's Hawk

    Immature Red-tailed Hawk. I can give you several subjective reasons why it's a Red-tail and not a Cooper's but an objective one which I encourage you to confirm in a field guide or online is that this bird has many faint bands on its tail whereas a Cooper's will have a few very distinct ones. Red-tailed Hawks don't get their characteristic red tails until they're more than a year old. There's a very high attrition rate in that first year and many Red-tail nests in the area (one that I know of in Medford near College Ave but there are almost certainly others nearby) so most of the Red-tails you will see this time of year will look like this one. In fact the overwhelming majority of hawks you will see in the area conspicuously perched like this will be Red-tails, so much so that you need to carefully eliminate Red-tail as a possibility before considering any other ID.


    thanks for ID knowledge

    I appreciate learning more about how to differentiate these birds!

    If this is a <1 year juvenile (wow that's big!) ie a passage hawk, does that mean it could be taken by a falconer and trained? Do you know if people do that around here?

    Very cool hawk pic

    I'm surprised he didn't take off, though. I've found that hawks spook pretty easily. When I see one perched in a tree, I can't even get remotely close before s/he decides to take off, like ~100 yards. The one in the pic just doesn't seem to care at all. Very cool.

    Occasionally, I'll test my wife's patience when I'll stop the car and get out to watch a soaring hawk. Heck, I test my wife's patience *all* the time...