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The Ivory Bill·Birds·Hawks & Owls

Sharp-shinned Hawk, Accipiter striatus

Sharp-shinned hawk with its upland bird prey on a log in foliage

Sharp-shinned Hawks have a wide distribution across North and Central America. They can be found throughout most of Canada, the United States, Mexico, and parts of Central America. These hawks inhabit diverse habitats, including deciduous and mixed forests, woodlands, riparian areas, and suburban or urban areas with suitable vegetation for nesting and hunting. They tend to prefer areas with dense tree canopies for nesting and hunting.

Sharp-shinned Hawks are characterized by their compact and slender bodies, long tails, and short rounded wings. They have relatively long legs and sharp, hooked beaks, well-suited for capturing and tearing apart their prey.

Sharp-shinned Hawks are agile and fast-flying predators. They feed on small songbirds, sparrows, thrushes, and sometimes mice or other small mammals. They are known for their excellent vision and exceptional maneuverability, allowing them to navigate dense vegetation and chase down small, agile birds. Their hunting technique involves sudden bursts of speed, using cover and surprise to capture their targets. They often ambush birds at bird feeders or pursue them through wooded areas.

Sharp-shinned Hawks build nests in trees, typically choosing the thick foliage of conifers or deciduous trees for concealment. The nests are constructed of sticks, twigs, and other plant materials, lined with softer materials such as bark strips or green foliage. They may reuse nests from previous years or build new ones, depending on the availability and condition of existing nests. The female is responsible for nest construction, while the male assists by providing materials.

Females lay 3 to 7 pale blue or bluish-white eggs, usually laying one egg every two to three days. Incubation lasts approximately 30 to 35 days, with the female primarily responsible for keeping the eggs warm. The male assists in hunting and providing food for the female during this period. After hatching, the young chicks are cared for and fed by both parents. They grow rapidly, developing flight feathers and gaining strength. The parents continue to feed and protect the young until they become independent.

The fledging period for Sharp-shinned Hawks typically occurs around 25 to 35 days after hatching. At this stage, the young hawks leave the nest and begin to explore nearby branches and surroundings. They continue to be fed and monitored by their parents during this time.

Sharp-shinned Hawks are known to migrate, although the extent and patterns of migration vary. Some individuals migrate to more southerly regions, seeking milder climates and abundant food sources, while others may remain in their breeding areas year-round if suitable prey is available.