- The tail has a thick white stripe at the bottom--especially in the fall, when their plumage is new, this is a helpful way to distinguish between them.
- The bottom of the tail looks more rounded than squared--this is the easiest way to to distinguish them when their tails are fanned.
- The pattern on the chest extends to the belly. Sharp-shinned Hawks usually have a white lower belly.
- The gray on the top of the head looks more like a cap than a hood. That is, the back of the neck is not as dark as the top of the head.
Cooper's Hawks are also larger than Sharp-shinned Hawks, though these photos can't illustrate that, and size is sometime difficult to determine in the field. And female hawks are larger than males, so a male Cooper's Hawk can be about the same size as a female Sharp-shinned Hawk. So unless it looks very small (male Sharp-shinned) or large (female Coopers), I don't rely on my sense of size.