A Banded Cooper’s Hawk

Banded juvenile Cooper's Hawk

A banded juvenile Cooper's Hawk

Yesterday I visited Magnuson Park in North Seattle. I’ve developed a pretty good eye for noticing raptors in trees, and as I drove around a corner my attention was immediately drawn to a hawk perched ten feet up a tree.

Around here, hawks are either accipiters, which have a thin body, or buteos, which are shaped like an American football. This one was thin, which told me it was most likely a Cooper’s Hawk or a Sharp-Shinned Hawk. A closer look revealed a slightly rounded tail, pegging it as a Cooper’s. The coloration further identified it as a juvenile.

I took a number of photos and did not think much about it until examining them in the evening, when I noticed a wide blue band on the hawk’s left leg. An inquiry to our regional birders’ email list got a near-immediate response from Jack Bettesworth. He told me he’d banded about 300 Cooper’s Hawks since 2003. He banded this one in October and it has been seen at Magnuson several times.

If you’ll click on the photo, you can get a good look at the band, containing the number 5, a line (part of the code), and the letter P. Jack bands all females on the left leg and males on the right leg. Since this hawk is standing on one leg, you may need to take my word for it that the band is on the left leg, designating it as a female. I’ll update this blog if I learn anything more about this particular bird or Jack’s banding project.

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