Sharp-shinned Hawk

Accipiter striatus

Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve

The Sharp-shinned Hawk is our smallest hawk. It grows up to 14 inches long, with a wingspan of 21 inches. Females are larger than males.

Adult Sharpies are slate gray on thier backs and wings, and they have rust-colored bars on their chests and bellies. They have red eyes. Young birds are browner.

Sharp-shinned Hawks have short wings and long tails. The tail has dark bands and the tip is squared off.

Sharpies are fast-flying birds that live and breed in forests. They can also be found hunting in thickets, parks, and forest edges.

These hawks migrate South each fall, but some stay in our area each winter. Most of the sharpies return in April and May.

Shortly after arriving in the Spring, Sharp-shinned Hawks mate and build a nest. Nests are usually built in an evergreen tree. Materials include sticks, twigs, bark strips, pine needles, and grass. Sometimes an old crow or squirrel nest is used.

Eggs are whitish with brown blotches. Young hawks hatch about five weeks after eggs are laid. It takes another three weeks before they are able to leave the nest. Both parents help raise young. The male hunts for food to feed them, while the female guards the nest.

Case Western Reserve University

Manitou Island Bird Survey

Sharp-shinned Hawks eat mostly small birds, though they can catch and kill birds their own size. Other prey include large insects (such as grasshoppers, dragonflies, and beetles), small mammals (including bats and mice), lizards, small snakes. amd frogs.

A hawk usually takes its prey to a feeding perch, which may be a dead tree or fallen log. There it uses its sharp talons and beak to tear apart its prey. You can sometimes find a hawk's feeding perch nearby piles of feathers or bird parts.

Sharp-shinned hawks are very agile fliers, and can chase prey through dense bushes or thickets.

Copyright, Hilton Pond Center

Copyright, Hilton Pond Center

Sharp-shinned Hawks compete with crows and larger birds of prey who try to steal their meals.

Predators of sharpies include Bald Eagles, Peregrine Falcons, and nest robbers such as Black Rat Snakes and Raccoons.

Nancy Beck, Long Island Birding.com

Copyright, Bill Schmoker

Additional Media

Description
Type
Credit

Sharp-shinned Hawk Call

Sound
Naturesongs.com

Relationships In Nature:

PREY
PREDATORS
SHELTER
OTHER

White-throated Sparrow

Bald Eagle

Virginia Pine

American Crow SP EC

Northern Cardinal

Black Rat Snake

Eastern Redcedar

Eastern Gray Squirrel SP

Northern Bobwhite

Raccoon

Loblolly Pine

Great Crested Flycatcher

Eastern White Pine

European Starling

American Beech

Eastern Bluebird

American Hornbeam

Downy Woodpecker

Bigtooth Aspen

Common Grackle

Flowering Dogwood

Brown-headed Cowbird

Green Hawthorn

Blue Jay

Wild Grape

Common Yellowthroat

Switchgrass

American Goldfinch

Kentucky Bluegrass

Carolina Wren

Common Yellowthroat

Least Shrew

Meadow Vole

Big Brown Bat

Five-lined Skink

Green Darner

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Relationship to Humans:

Sharp-shinned Hawks occasionally kill chickens or other poultry, but rarely are a nuisance. They do us a favor by controlling bird populations, especially pests such as House Sparrows and European Starlings, which are easier to catch. Like most birds of prey, sharpies have suffered from pesticides which make their eggshells thin so they won't hatch. Sharpies are often killed flying into glass windows that reflect trees.

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

KINGDOM
Animal
PHYLUM
Chordate
CLASS
Bird
ORDER
Falconiformes
FAMILY
Accipitridae
GENUS
Accipter
SPECIES
Accipiter striatus

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