Sunday, September 15, 2013

Everything You Know About Goshawks Is Wrong



Any accomplished birder would identify this bird as a Cooper's Hawk. Doctor Briefer, of course, knows better. This bird was photographed at Point Mugu, California, an area with a high dove density. While most birders/biologists/ornithologists see absolutely no correlation between Columbid abundance and goshawk distribution, there is actually a singular truth to be found..."you show me doves - and I will show you goshawks!".

"If you need binos to identify accipiters - then you certainly are not a hawk watcher." - Dr. Nelson Briefer

Most people know about the best bird blogger out there, but in case you don't, I humbly present to you Doctor Nelson Briefer. With no less than FOUR different blogs dedicated to preaching the gospel of how abundant Northern Goshawks are in urban areas, he is perhaps the world's leading expert on the species. He observes them ripping though the sky with his naked eye, and needs not bother with stupid photographs, for he has nothing to prove. He knows the self-proclaimed "experts" are full of it when they say goshawks are dependent on coniferous forest, for he has observed dozens of them in places like urban Tucson, AZ. He hates Sheri Williamson and Dennis Paulson. He bravely proclaims that "birders are wimps". He has seen goshawks with red underwings. He is, without a doubt, the last great hope for goshawks.

Did I mention goshawks are common in cities? Good. All of Doctor Briefer's goshawk publications are completely enthralling, but his current groundbreaking work can be found right here.

18 comments:

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  2. He is relentless, swift, cunning, and indefatigable...much like an urban Goshawk.

    : ::sigh:: : After re-reading all my eBird reports of Cooper's Hawks in urban, columbid heavy areas, well, I have a lot of revising to do. Dammit.

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  3. Wow. It's a real person. Muy embarasoso...

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  4. Bro. Please. Interview him. Please.

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  5. By the way, thanks a lot. After reading this I have spent the last hour just getting my Briefer on. I'm havein a lot of fun with the following method of study: 1) Do a Google Image search for "nelson briefer". 2) choose a photo that looks like it has something to do with birds. 3) click "visit page" and scroll to the bottom of the blog post, where there is inevitably a comment left by Dr. Briefer. One of my personal favorites is here:

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  6. These blogs have got to be performance art.

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  7. http://www.kersteins.com/blogdepuree/2007/07/31/theres-a-northern-goshawk-lurking-in-our-neighborhood/

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    1. Dan, This is arguably the best Nelson Briefer comment that I've seen and I, like many, have wasted far more time than I care to think about "getting my Briefer on." What a fascinating character. Frightening as it might be, I would love to meet the guy in person. I don't know anyone who has.

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  8. Oh wow, I too fell down the Briefer Internet Rabbit Hole today.

    How long until he comments on this post?

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  9. I am pretty sure that the Veracruz river of raptors has not gotten a goshawk. I think we need to send him down immediately!

    Actually, better thought - send me down and I'll happily bullshit about how each coop is a gos...

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  10. and, my favorite of the various posts I have seen:

    http://slybird.blogspot.com/2008/01/molt-and-plumage-lab.html

    He mentions "Goshawks with expressed recessive genes". In tracking this internet beast, it seems that this is the explanation for orange on the chest - POOF - turning an adult coop into an adult goshawk!

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  11. and lastly, he's gotten harriers in on it, too:

    http://goshawksoftexas.blogspot.com/2010/04/remarkable-female-goshawk.html

    That's it for now, I promise.

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  12. wait, one last thing.

    he has apparently written an article for american falconry, entitled "The rebel hawk watcher"

    I'll bet its riveting.

    http://www.americanfalconry.com/TOC.html

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  13. The Internet has allowed Nelson Briefer and his exploits to become widely recognized in birding circles. In some respects he is much better known than many of North America's true birding experts. Almost every time his name comes up in a conversation among birders, someone in the group will blurt out, "Oh, that Goshawk guy." He's an online marketing genius.

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  14. I believe in Nelson Briefer.

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  15. All the hawks in my icon (see to the right of my name) are goshawks. Urban goshawks.

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  16. I think of this post from time to time. I can't possibly defend that dude's IDs, but here in Tahoe, we see goshawks in neighborhoods all the time, hunting in open meadows and wetlands, sitting on a powerline in Tahoe City, and once in a blue moon I'll catch one soaring overhead on a thermal - all sorts of seemingly atypical contexts. Not sure how "urban" that is, but they do nest in Berlin. Here's a video from this morning in a tiny sidelot of a condo complex, right off Hwy 28 in Incline Village: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6-wRSyUHdA

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    1. I should add that they nest in Berlin at such high densities, there's a color-banding and nest-monitoring program, and it's become a very popular spot for photographers: http://www.samhobson.co.uk/latest/2014/12/18/goshawk-pictures-used-for-bird-of-year-campaign-2015

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