Small Coopers Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, or maybe a Merlin? Hanging out where a forested area meets an agricultural field, any of them could be at home here.
The features that CornellLab’s All About Birds uses to distinguish the Merlin from the Sharp-shinned Hawk require flight or at least other angles. The Sharp-shinned Hawk has short, rounded wings and a very long tail. The Merlin has sharply pointed wings, a broad chest, and a medium length tail. Then there are the sex and age variations to confuse the ID.
It may come down to the “bluntness” of the face: the Merlin, a falcon, has a blunt face and the hawks are more pointy.
This fellow stayed put even after I took his photo and had moved on.
We often walk around a path where a pair of Barred Owls has been seen regularly since the spring. This was the first time I saw them both. The Owl below was quietly watching us while we photographed his mate in a tree on the other side of the path.
I had stepped aside to let another photographer get a view of the first Owl and was surprised to see and get better shots of Owl number two. There were lots of branches preventing a wider shot but he was closer and the light was a little better. He didn’t stay long and after this over-the-shoulder glance he swooped further out into the trees.
We often walk through the cemetery at Charleston’s Circular Congregational Church when we are in the neighborhood. Filled with trees, it is welcoming to many birds which may be why a Red-tailed Hawk buzzed the area, cruising over my head. He never slowed and I watched his beautiful tail disappear over a wall headed towards Queen Street.
We headed that way too, wondering if he might be perched in a nearby tree. Even better, he was in clear view on the tile roof of one of the old French Quarter homes.
I switched to my long lens and he stayed put while I angled around the front of the building, getting a few views of this temporary king of Queen Street.
Daily life went on below him: post-Irma trash pick up, street repairs, tourists bent on seeing every street but missing the details, a suited business man conducting his business on the phone in the street…nothing seemed to faze him.
It’s easy to see why Owls are one of the biggest attractions at the Center for Birds of Prey. Trained to participate in the Center’s Environmental Education programs, they tend to sit calmly on a perch giving a wonderful opportunity to see them up close. This Great Horned Owl, however, was intent on getting on the ground for a few minutes.
His handler waited for him to look around and settle.
After a bit he went back to the perch and showed off with a lovely pose.
The Center for Birds of Prey, Photography Day, April 2017, Awanda, SC.