Can any birders out there help me identify this little guy/gal?
He/she lives in my new back yard in Cambridge, approx. half a mile from the Charles River. I took these pics around 6 in the evening in early April. I first noticed her when she was on the ground, picking through some scattered feathers. Then, she flew into this little tree and perched about 6 ft off the ground. After a while, she flew up into the bigger tree next door, about 20 ft up.
I haven't seen any songbirds in the new yard yet – just little puffs of feathers where they once were:
I know nothing about birds, but my impression was that she was small (bigger than a dove, but not by much), drab, and had giant claws relative to the rest of her body. In my very inexpert opinion, she looked too small and drab to be a red-tailed hawk like these. She has dark bands on her tail. Even with the birding book Pete gave me, I am hopeless.
Maybe a broad-winged hawk?
Looks like an immature Sharp-shinned Hawk or Cooper's Hawk (they are hard to tell apart in a picture). Size and eating habits seem right, too.
Really enjoy your blog.
Yes, either a Cooper's or a Sharp-shinned, and they are indeed hard to tell apart. They belong to the genus Accipiter, commonly called bird-hawks (as you can see from the evidence). Look those up in your book and see if you're able to spot any of the differentiating marks.
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