These two species belong to the genus Accipiter, which contains about 50 other species worldwide. Only one other accipiter, the Northern Goshawk, is found in the USA and Canada. Accipiters' short, rounded wings and long tails are well-adapted for maneuvers in forested habitats.
In today's post we'll discuss how to differentiate this duo while perched; many of these traits can be used for in-flight ID as well. One of the most important themes in this post is that no field mark is reliable on its own. Thus, let a majority of traits lead you to an identification. If there's no majority, it's better to be uncertain than inaccurate!
Wing Tips is written by Tessa Rhinehart.
Cover image: "Wandering Tattler" by Jason Crotty / licensed under CC BY 2.0
The name "Wing Tips" was inspired by Marc Radell, who came up with the phrase during a discussion about identifying broad-winged hawks in flight. Thanks, Marc!