We are fairly confident that this bird is an immature red-shouldered hawk.
Other guesses for the bird's identity included merlin, sharp-shinned hawk, Cooper's hawk, and northern harrier. The bird was photographed in a Niagara Peninsula backyard in February 2000, and all of these species could be present there.
The fairly stout build of the bird, medium (but not long) tail, barring on the tail, lightly speckled breast, and head colouration were all used in the identification of this bird.
(Photo by John Spirko)
© Canadian Peregrine Foundation