This hawk has not been around the garden for a while but Laurie told me to look out the window to see the large flock of juncos feeding on the weeds and seeds under the snow. Just as I turned, they scattered. Laurie thought it was my turning suddenly near the glass doors that scared them but we soon realised that it was a hawk.
I don’t know about sharp-shinned but it’s talons are sharp. I’m not 100% sure of the species but I think it’s correct. It can do very tight turns in the air, even flying through fairly dense bush branches. But by the time I’d got the camera and changed the lens, it had gone a bit further away so I only got this more distant picture.
Because I had been shooting slow-moving insects before, I wasn’t prepared for a fast bird and it took off within seconds before I could change the shutter speed. Still, I was lucky to get the head in focus while all else was blurred.
I put a picture of another hawk on Facebook and Twitter a few days ago. Here it is. It may be hard to tell from the photos as it was a bit further away, but it was quite a bit bigger than the one today. I’m guessing at Cooper’s Hawk, or even bigger, a Northern Goshawk. It certainly agreed with the part of the goshawk description in one of my bird books that it sits and waits on a perch rather than flying in search of prey.
I’d welcome more educated IDs from anybody more of an expert at identifying birds from blurry pictures.