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I had a nice day of accipiter study. After an 8:15 sighting of the Common Redpoll, I settled in to count for Feeder Watch. I noticed that my neighbor's three Dwarf Banty chickens were making their way over to my yard for some millet. The rooster and two hens are becoming regulars. Around 8:30, I heard squawking and saw one of the hens being held down by, at first glance, an immature Coopers. I had no success in scaring him off her (for Dr. Dolittle's [the rooster] sake, I tried). Later I noticed that he seemed very stocky, had white spots on his back, as well as having a white supercillium on a very pale head. I looked in Sibley and wondered about a juv. N. Goshawk. His picture was pretty close to what I was viewing. I called Mark McKellar, to see what he thought and he sugested one of the hawk books. I have Advanced Birding and went to the Accipiter section which said that all those field marks were pretty interchangable between the three species. The hawk didn't budge when I opened the window for clearer photos. I finally got to see the undertail coverts and they were pure white, no streaking. I did not get a good look at the tail in a fanned display. According to the book this seems to be the most diagnostic field mark: a zig zag  pattern of banding on the fanned tail. So my first ID seems to be the one I'm sticking with: Immature Coopers.  As the day wore on, he/she stayed until 4:30 dining on chicken, the bird's crop got fatter and fatter! He finally flew off, with the carcass, barely clearing the fence. I'm afraid all that's left of the former Mrs. Dolittle is a pile of feathers. While he was eating there were five Mourning Doves that were feeding on the ground about 10 or 15 feet from the hawk, he must have looked too fat or occupied for them to be worried. For their well being, I hope Dr and the remaining Mrs Dolittle stay closer to the protection of their own yard. 

Happy birding,
Ruth Simmons
Lee's Summit, Jackson Co., MO
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"A nation behaves well if the natural resources and assets which one
generation turns over to the next are increased and not impaired in
value."  (Theodore Roosevelt)


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