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There have been several Cooper's/Sharpie posts lately.
Yes, size is often a deciding factor.  Some people depend solely on the
tail shape--straight (sometimes notched) for Sharp-shinned, rounded for
Cooper's.

Two other factors that often help are head shape and size.  A Cooper's
Hawk's head when perched usually has a squared-off look to the back; the
Sharpie's head is sloping and rounded to the back.  In flight, the
Cooper's head protrudes beyond the wing; the smaller Sharpie's head does
not.

There are other differences noted and well illustrated in various
guides, but I find these to be easy to remember and usually easy to see.

Edge Wade
Columbia, MO
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On Sunday, January 26, 2003, at 10:31 AM, Stephen Whitworth wrote:

>     After seeing merlin in my back yard Thursday, I looked out about 10
> a.m. Sunday, and my feeders (filled up at dusk Saturday) were hopping.
> Suddenly, everybody started scattering, and here came an accipiter
> cruising
> in. Got pretty good looks as it swooped, then perched a moment. No
> doubt a
> Cooper's or sharp-shinned. I know size isn't supposed to be a definitive
> difference, but I'm gonna go with sharp-shinned, just b/c it seemed
> pretty
> small to me, hardly much bigger than the merlin. At the range, and thru
> my
> window, and with my older, weaker binos that I keep in the kitchen, I
> didn't
> have enough time to note all the details that might otherwise have
> differentiated between the Coop's or sharpie. I could be persuaded it
> was
> Cooper's, but I have seen sharpies in my neck of the woods, and my back
> yard
> is mostly wooded on three sides. Didn't see it catch anything. Also,
> had a
> red squirrel this morn taking advantage of the corn and peanuts I put
> on the
> "squirrel tree" to try to keep the little devils busy and away from the
> rest
> of the feeders. I can't remember last time I had a red squirrel sneak in
> among the grays.
>
> Steve Whitworth, Glen Carbon, Madison County, IL
>
>
>
>
>
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