I've received numerous replies to my query and would like to thank each and
every one of you for your answers. I will try to answer everyone also
personally if I'll have the time.
The votes were cast as follows: Brown Goshawk (BG) 10 vs. Collared
Sparrowhawk (CS) 2, which means that the "jury" has been almost unanimous
in its verdict: the bird in the photos is a Brown Goshawk. I think the most
definite answer was that of Mr. Stephen Debus, which concluded that he
favors the bird as a Brown Goshawk. Thank you to Greg for forwarding the
messages (mine and Stephen's) back and forth. I think I have learned a lot
of these two species based on everyone's replies. The main characteristics
that were referred to were:
1) Tail shape (highly referred to) - the rounded effect that comes from the
slightly longer central tail feathers points strongly to BG compared to the
square-cut or even slightly notched tail tip of the CS.
2) Wing shape - the photos gave a slightly inconsistent feel compared to
the usual characteristics, but usually the trailing edge of the wing should
be more S-curved with CS.
3) Body and wing size -relation (highly referred to) - the bird was
consistently depicted as stocky or heavily built or even beefy, which is
very typical for a BG (and not at all for a slim CS).
4) Head and neck projection - too long a projection for a CS.
5) Coloration of primaries - CS has more boldly barred primaries, which
probably would show more clearly in the photos.
The hooded effect has received some speculation about the age, but nothing
else, so it is probably not related to the species, but only to the plumage
I also wondered if the jizz differs a lot between our local Accipiters and
Australian ones. What I meant by this, was that in Europe, the Eurasian
Sparrowhawk and Northern Goshawk are quite easy to distinguish from each
other based on the jizz. Of course, experience is needed and beginners
struggle with it, but it is quite rare to see an individual, which cannot
be conclusively said to be either one of the two. In Australia, the
difference in the jizz between a Brown Goshawk and a Collared Sparrowhawk
seems to be much more subtle, so the identification is not as
straightforward, but can be done with enough experience from both species.
I think that my experience of the European cousins of these two Accipiters
helped me to pick the bird from my photos for re-evaluation regarding its
ID. Something just didn't feel right for a Sparrowhawk, so I thought to get
a local opinion on the species. And this time, it seems it was a good call.
Thank you once more, I really do appreciate it.
Based on the help I received from all of you, I think I'll use your help
again in the future.
2013/1/9 martin cachard <>
> Brown Goshawk for mine - heavilly built, tail still rounded but moult
> looks like it's occurring - just looks way too beefy for a sparrowhawk to
> Martin Cachard
> > Date: Wed, 9 Jan 2013 06:40:38 +0200
> > From:
> > To:
> > Subject: [Birding-Aus] ID Help - Timeless question: C. Sparrowhawk or B.
> > Hello from Finland,
> > I casually photographed this bird on August 25th, 2012, in Sydney. The
> > was then soaring high above Centennial Park and our initial thoughts
> > a Collared Sparrowhawk. I think we never took a very long look at the
> > as we didn't have a scope, but our instinctive ID was based on the jizz.
> > As my personal experience ranges only to European Accipiter species, I do
> > know the difference in the jizz between the local Sparrowhawk and
> > But when it comes to the Australian species, I think that the jizz might
> > a little different? But is it?
> > In the photos, the bird seems to be a bit more stocky than to what I am
> > used to in Sparrowhawks, but on the other hand, I remember that the
> > seemed more Sparrowhawk-ish. And is that hooded "look" usual to the
> > (whichever it is)?
> > Could some of you verify that this was indeed a Collared Sparrowhawk or
> > that we were wrong and it is a Brown Goshawk instead?
> > Best three of the photos that were taken of the bird (they're a bit
> > as the bird was very high):
> > http://www.harrynystrom.net/images/accipiter_sp20120825-02m.jpg
> > http://www.harrynystrom.net/images/accipiter_sp20120825-16m.jpg
> > http://www.harrynystrom.net/images/accipiter_sp20120825-17m.jpg
> > By the way, we positively identified a couple of Collared Sparrowhawks
> > during our trip, but I am still missing the Brown Goshawk -tick
> > Cheers,
> > -Harry
> > ===============================
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