Haney Creek hawk

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At Haney Creek Park in Stuart yesterday, I spotted a hawk perched in a bare tree.

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My first thought ID-wise was that it looked like a member of the Buteo family. But it seemed to be too small to be, say, a Red-tailed Hawk.

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Trying to get closer, but not too close. My husband and dog respectfully lagged behind. Good boys!

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Getting a better look. Tail seems pretty long, and because it was smallish I decided it might be an Accipiter like a Cooper’s Hawk. Looking online when I got home, the colors resembled an immature Cooper’s.

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But I am not that confident about hawks so I posted a couple of these pics to What’s This Bird? on Facebook. I wrote: “Immature Cooper’s Hawk? Midday at Haney Creek Park in Stuart, FL.”

First reply: “No, notice how far down the tail the wingtips come, and how narrow the bands on the tail are. This is a red-shouldered hawk.”

Okay, cool. So Buteo it is, specifically Red-Shouldered. Smaller than red-tails.

Second reply, from one of the 8 people who manage the membership, moderators, settings, and posts for What’s This Bird: “And notice the pale crescents in the wings. And the reddish shoulders. Seriously. They are visible here.

Seriously?.. birders are such know-it-alls. And the beginning birder needs to be prepared to take a few hits to the ego. Smiley-winky face.

Anyway, this bird doesn’t look that much like any of these photos of Red-shouldered Hawks on All About Birds: Red-shouldered Hawk Identification. But I guess that’s the beauty and challenge of hawk watching.

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Take off! Big, broad wings… I bet that’s a Buteo hawk thing.

Note to self: read up on Buteos today. And look at hawk photos and videos, specifically Cooper’s and Red-shouldered.

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Something to eat down there in the grass? The hawk scuffled around for a moment, was still with its head down, then flew off and we continued our walk on the one-mile-ish trail that loops the park.

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Radar and John on the sandy trail ahead.

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A faraway dead-treetop bird got me excited for a minute because I thought it might be a rare Florida Scrub Jay. I have never seen one, but they do exist in this area of Florida, and this type of scrubby habitat.

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Got closer, got a better look, heard it sing, and when it flew off I could tell it was, in fact, the ubiquitous state bird of Florida (and Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas): the Northern Mockingbird.

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