Sharp-shinned Hawk

Sharp-shinned Hawks are the smallest of the Accipiters, a family of birds of prey including the Cooper’s Hawk and Northern Goshawk.

These ferocious hawks have a blue-grey back and head, a rusty orange- and white-streaked breast, a long barred tail that forms a sharp squared edge, and a black-tipped yellow bill. The eyes of adults are deep red, while those of juveniles are dull yellow.

Juvenile birds look quite different from their adult counterparts; their backs are a mottled brown colour and their bellies are coarsely streaked in brown and white.

As with many raptor species, female Sharp-shinned Hawks are larger and can weigh more than twice that of males. They are sometimes confused with Cooper’s Hawks which are slightly larger in size, have a circular tail, and a larger head and bill than a Sharp-shinned Hawk.

Their voice is a high-pitched series of “kik, kik, kik” sounds.

Photo by leshoward

Sharp-shinned Hawks are year-round residents of the lower mainland and tend to inhabit coniferous forests and semi-open habitats. These Accipiters feast on other birds, and can often be seen picking songbirds off at local bird feeders during the day. They also feed on some small mammals and large insects.

Agriculture fields provide excellent habitat for their prey species, and Sharp-shinned Hawks will frequent these areas, perching on Hedgerows while in search of the perfect meal.

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