raptor id

To: "'Megan Mears'" <>, "'COG Chatline'" <>
Subject: raptor id
From: "Philip Veerman" <>
Date: Fri, 21 Feb 2014 14:52:32 +1100
A fairly good photo that you would think actually captures all the features to distinguish between a Collared Sparrowhawk or else a Brown Goshawk. Equally important is it shows how difficult it can be. It is sitting very slender and tall. I have not seriously attempted to photograph birds since about 35 years ago but I have always thought it is impossible to sneak up on either of these birds.
If it is about magpie size then it is not a male Collared Sparrowhawk or a female Brown Goshawk (but the other combination). So size doesn't help much. I'm not sure if I am seeing the tail tip correctly, the bits that are clearly feathers are notched, which goes with Collared Sparrowhawk, except that the outer feathers are shorter than the next inner ones, which suggests the opposite, and if the brown thing in the middle of the tail are feathers, that suggests a rounded tip but only if other feathers are missing but there is no other sign of moult. The feet are so clear you would think that would make it easy, but for what I assume is a Collared Sparrowhawk the toes are very solid looking and not as big a difference in toe length as you would normally expect for a Collared Sparrowhawk. But probably fit that one better than a Brown Goshawk. The head proportions (smallish and with small beak and minimal eye ridge) suggest to me that it is a Collared Sparrowhawk.  Mostly on the head features I believe your id is correct. 
-----Original Message-----
From: Megan Mears [
Sent: Friday, 21 February 2014 2:01 PM
To: COG Chatline
Subject: [canberrabirds] raptor id


I am not too great on raptor id and rarely see them. This one was on lower Mt Majura this morning. I guess it is a Collared Sparrowhawk or else a Brown Goshawk. Can anyone tell from my photo? The bird was right in front of the sun so I have done my best to pull shadows back and make the markings as clear as possible. 

The bird was silent. It was smaller than I expected for a raptor - about magpie size but sleeker and maybe smaller.  It wasn't too keen on me. It was seen about 10:15am and it headed towards the mountain not the city direction.

I will keep the photo up a while but am just posting it temporarily to see if you can help me with id.

Thanks a lot,


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