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Sharp-shinned Hawk Accipiter striatus


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Sharp-shinned Hawk, adult
credit: Dario Sanches /CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Accipitridae, Hawks and Eagles view all from this family

Description ADULT Has mainly dark blue-gray upperparts, barred orange-rufous underparts, and fluffy white vent feathers. Eye is reddish and legs are yellow. JUVENILE Has brown upperparts (note white streaks on mantle) and paler underparts with brown, blotchy rufous streaks that can create barred effect. Eye is yellow.

Dimensions Length: 10-14" (25-36 cm); Wngspn: 21" (53 cm)

Habitat Common and widespread, favoring wooded country in breeding season. Migrates south in fall, often wintering in more open terrain.

Observation Tips Soaring birds are easy to see in spring. Otherwise unobtrusive and encountered by chance.

Range Rocky Mountains, Florida, Plains, Texas, Eastern Canada, Western Canada, California, Great Lakes, Alaska, Northwest, New England, Mid-Atlantic, Southwest, Southeast

Voice Mostly silent, but agitated nesting birds utter kiew-kiew-kiew calls.

Discussion North America's smallest accipiter. Employs rapid, agile, low-level flight to catch small songbirds in surprise attacks. Similar plumage, but different proportions to larger Cooper's: in flight note Sharp-shinned's relatively short, broad, and rounded wings, shorter square-ended, barred tail and short neck. Soars with wings angled forward and active flight involves stiff-winged flapping action. Seen perched, note relatively small head, steep forehead and rather dainty bill. Sexes are similar, but female is larger than male.