Scientific Name: Accipiter Striatus
Diet: Sharp-shinned Hawks eat mainly small birds such as sparrows, warblers, and thrushes.They also sometimes capture larger birds such as quail. They also eat small rodents and reptiles. Some commonly eaten animals are mice, voles, bats, frogs, and snakes. The young Sharp-shinned Hawks are often fed nestlings of other birds.
Habitat: Sharp-shinned Hawks live in forests. They prefer conifer forests, but also sometimes can be found in deciduous forest. During the winter, they are most common around forest edges, thickets, parks, and woodlots. They breed in denser forest, ideally with a closed canopy, and even during the winter, they are almost never found in open areas.
Range: Sharp-shinned Hawks live throughout Washington state and most of North America. However, they are not present in the mid-U.S. and the far northern parts of North America in Canada.
Sound: The call of the Sharp-shinned Hawk is a repetitive, high-pitched ki-ki-ki-ki! It is used for almost every purpose–courtship, an alarm call, and a begging call for nesting females and young.
Nesting: Sharp-shinned Hawks breed from April to May in mixed deciduous-coniferous, dense forest. The nest is placed 30-35 feet up near the trunk of a tree; it is often placed on top of an old crow or squirrel nest, and it is usually well hidden. The female does most the building.Their nests are placed in the same area each year, but each pair makes a new nest every year. The nest is built of sticks or twigs, pine needles, and grass, and it is lined with strips of bark. When finished, the nest is about two feet wide and 4-6 inches deep. The female lays 4-5 white eggs with brown patches and both the male and the female incubate them for 30 to 35 days. When the young hatch, their eyes are open and they are covered in a light down. At the 3-4 weeks, the young go outside their nest, and a couple of weeks later they learn to fly.
Behavior: Sharp-shinned Hawks are highly agile fliers, and can chase prey through dense thickets. They catch birds on the ground and in the air, and catch insects on the wing. Sometimes, these hawks get close to their prey using nearby cover, and then they attack, surprising their prey. Before eating, Sharp-shinned Hawks take their prey to a feeding perch. During the breeding season, Sharp-shinned Hawks become reclusive and more solitary, but during migration they often travel in small groups.
Description/Field Marks: Sharp-shinned Hawks are the smallest accipiters in North America, at about 9-14 inches long, about the same size as a jay or pigeon. Females are about 1/3 larger than the males. They have a wingspan of 16-22 inches. Sharp-shinned Hawks are barred with white and dull orange stripes on the throat, breast, underside, and the inner part of the wings, which shows in flight. The outer part of the wings, including the primary and secondary feathers, is barred with black and white stripes. Their tails, backs, napes, and crowns are slate grey.
How to Attract: Seed feeders, suet feeders, or bird bathes all work to attract Sharp-shinned Hawks, but not because they want the food or water. These attractants attract song birds which Sharp-shinned Hawks hunt. If there is a large number of small birds in your yard, there is likely to also be a hunting Sharp-shinned hawk.