[canberrabirds] Why are the C. Sparrowhawk & B. Goshawk so similar?

To: David Adams <>, COG line <>, Birding-Aus <>
Subject: [canberrabirds] Why are the C. Sparrowhawk & B. Goshawk so similar?
From: Nikolas Haass <>
Date: Sat, 12 Jan 2013 00:17:54 -0800 (PST)
I strongly disagree, David. In your previous e-mail you said "Australia is 
striking because, with limited exceptions, if you can get a good look at a 
bird, you can name it to species. That's not the case in Europe, North America, 
the Neo-tropics, Africa or Asia, so far as I know. ". 
All these groups you mentioned in this e-mail (see below) may be 'tricky' but 
in all cases you made you can nail the ID by a good look at the bird. There are 
only a few exceptions where you want to hear a song or at least a call (e.g. 
Willow/Alder Flycatcher - Empidonax).
Which other tryants can't you identify  "if you can get a good look"? Maybe 
some Myiarchus spp. Yes, hawks (especially Aquila eagles) and gulls are 
difficult, but not because they are more 'more difficult' in the Northern 
hemisphere - there are way more species in the Northern hemisphere! BTW, all of 
them are identifiable by a good look (help: age the bird before you go to 
species level ID). Shorebirds - yes Long-billed/Short-billed Dowitcher are 
difficult but not un-IDable in the US but what about Grey-tailed/Wandering 
Tattler and Pacific/American Golden Plover here in Australia? They may be 
difficult but you can ID them in the field. Same issue applies for terns 
worldwide - not only in the Northern hemisphere. "Pelagic birds" - are you 
referring to tubenoses? - are more numerous in Australia and hence we have some 
ID challenges here (e.g. the different Wandering Albatross taxa some of which 
you can only ID in hand). Yes, juv Allen's/Rufous Hummingbird
 is almost only IDable in hand. Can't think of difficult alcids. Yes some 
flycatchers are difficult but what about Leaden/Satin Flycatcher (yes, they 
aren't flycatchers) here in Australia? Scaup are easy provided you get a good 
look. Icterids - Meadowlarks are difficult but again IDable in the field. Can't 
think of New World Warblers and Vireos, Tanagers, New World Sparrows (Buntings 
- maybe female Black-headed/Red-headed Buntings) and Finches (o.k. if you split 
all the former Red Crossbills) that are unIDable in the field.


Nikolas Haass

Sydney, NSW

From: David Adams <>
To: COG line <>; Birding-Aus 
Sent: Saturday, January 12, 2013 3:31 PM
Subject: [canberrabirds] Why are the C. Sparrowhawk & B. Goshawk so similar?
> One minor point (I am also a Northern Hemispherian): Which birds are so
> difficult to identify in Europe and North America? Apart from maybe some
> Empidonax in North America and maybe some Phylloscopus, Acrocephalus and
> Hippolais in Eurasia/Africa I can't think of many species that are that
> to ID there. "Hard" birds are certainly not the norm there.

Fair comment. I guess confusing is in the eye of the beholder ;-) Empidonax
are hard, for sure...I'd list some of the other tyrants as tough, depending
on how far afield you go. Apart from hawks, terns, gulls, pelagic species,
and shorebirds, I'd also say that in the New World there are hard pairs of
hummingbirds, alcids, flycatchers, ducks (e.g. Scaup), some of the New
World blackbirds, and New World warblers. And vireos...and plenty of
young/female tanagers. And sparrows...and finches. It's fair to say that
corvids are probably harder here. (Unless you accept that they should all
be lumped into C. indistinctus, as proposed last year...)  Even some of the
loons Old World warblers are tough in Europe.

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