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Sharp-shinned Hawk

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Sharp-shinned Hawk
Class: Aves
Order: Falconiformes
Family: Accipitridae
Subfamily: Accipitrinae
Genus: Accipiter

Length: 9-11 in. (male); 11-13 in. (female)
Weight: 3-4 oz. (male); 5-8 oz. (female)
Wingspan: 20-21 in. (male); 23-26 in. (female)
Common Name: little blue darter, sharpy, bird hawk
Etymology: accipiter (Latin) - "birds of prey"; striatus (Latin) - "striped," refers to underparts of immature wing
Description: The small sharp-shinned hawk has the typical short round wings and long tail of the accipiters. It can be distinguished from the Cooper's hawk by its small size and the squared-off shape of the tip of its tail. Its eye is placed in the center of the rounded head. In flight the small head barely projects beyond the leading edge of the wings.

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Flight, Voice, and Habitat:

Typical flight pattern for accipiters: flap, flap, glide - flap, flap, glide.

Alarm notes "kik-kik-kik-kik." Male, 2 notes higher than female. Wailing keeeeps.

During breeding season - stays in forest canopy unless displaying. Cooper's hawks are seen in increasing numbers while Sharp-shins are declining due to habitat. Cooper's will nest in fragmented woodlands, while sharp-shinned won't.


Seem to prefer coniferous tree located in groves of deciduous. They will return to nest locations, but they do not reuse old nests. Sharp-shins lay 2 to 6 eggs; the female is the primary incubator, while the male provides food. Incubation averages 30 to 35 days, and the young fledge in 21 to 27 days.


Sharp-shinned hawks are found in woodlands throughout most of North and Central America, more northern than Cooper's hawks. Northern birds are migratory, with young females, then males going before older females and males.


Two different techniques: still-hunting from inconspicuous perches or fast darts through woodlands, flushing startled birds. Sharp-shins specialize in catching small birds, small mammals, lizards, frogs, insects.

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