The small Sharp-shinned Hawk is similar to Cooper’s Hawks in many ways, but it’s more difficult to see and has more hidden habits than the bigger cousin. Since their main diet consists of other birds, they are frequently seen stalking bird feeders. Sharp-shinned Hawks have a lot of interesting facts.
FACTS ABOUT SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS
1. WHY ARE THEY CALLED SHARP-SHINNED?
Laterally compressed (i.e., thin) It has a strong, sharp front edge on its legs. As a result, the sharp-shinned hawk is known by this name because its shins are indeed sharp.
2. WHERE DO SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS LIVE?
In both North and South America, sharp-shinned hawks live. They may be found from Alaska to Panama in North America. From Colombia to Bolivia, there is a population in South America that lives in the Andes. The population lives along Brazil’s Atlantic coast, as well as into the Amazon basin, south via Paraguay and Uruguay into northern Argentina.
3. HOW CAN I IDENTIFY A SHARP-SHINNED HAWK?
Hawks with long tails are small in stature. Their backs are blue-gray, and their chests are orange-red. Their tail is squared off and their wings are small and rounded. Their wings are normally positioned forward during flight, and they execute brief, quick strokes.
4. WHAT DO SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS EAT?
Songbirds are the main source of food for sharp-shinned hawks. The upper limit for prey size appears to be represented by American Robins. If there are few birds around, they may hunt small mammals and insects.
5. WHERE DO SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS MIGRATE?
The Sharp-shinned Hawk breeds mostly in Canada and Alaska, then migrates south to the continental United States, Mexico, and Central America. Yet, in the Rocky and Appalachian Mountain areas, there are year-round populations.
6. DO SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS MATE FOR LIFE?
We can’t say for sure. Sharp-shinned hawks are extremely secretive about their mating patterns, and nothing is known. We don’t know if they breed with the same partners every year or if they pick a fresh partner for each breeding season.
7. WHERE DO SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS BUILD THEIR NESTS?
They appear to prefer conifer trees as nesting places, typically at the top of the trees in deep forest under heavy concealment. The limbs are horizontal, and the limb connects to the trunk. Since they are often well hidden, these nests are difficult to find.
8. WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS AND COOPER’S HAWKS?
The heads of sharp-shinned hawks are smaller and more rounded, and they are often shorter overall. Cooper’s hawks have a more rounded tail as well. Cooper’s hawks are significantly more assertive and aggressive predators in terms of behavior.
9. ARE SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS RARE?
While DDT usage decreased the population of sharp-shinned hawks in the 1960s and 1970s, numbers have steadied and possibly increased since then. It may be difficult to get an accurate picture of their population size at times because these hawks are more secretive than other species.
10. DO SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS KILL CHICKENS?
Large females might hunt chickens on rare occasions, but it’s more probable that a Cooper’s Hawk is bothering your hens. Although Cooper’s hawks are bigger, they resemble sharp-shinned hawks in appearance. Something the size of a chicken would be difficult for most sharp-shinned hawks to kill and eat.
11. HOW DO SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS USE THEIR TALONS?
Sharp-shinned Hawks appear to be extremely skilled with their talons, as evidenced by the fact that they can break birds out of wire mesh cage. They also use them to manipulate live animals before killing them. The Sharp-shinned Hawk appears to be more proficient at this than most raptors.
12. HOW LONG DO SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS LIVE?
The typical lifespan of Sharp-shinned Hawks in the wild is around 5 years, while at least one individual in the wild lived to be 12 years old. Because of the danger posed by bigger raptors, these little hawks have a short life expectancy.
13. WHAT HABITAT DO SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS PREFER?
Sharp-shinned Hawks live in deep woodland, where they are less likely to encounter bigger raptors, preferring to do so. Except when migrating, they’re seldom seen. They do reside in the suburbs on occasion, however they are particularly susceptible to predators.
14. WHAT DO SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS SOUND LIKE?
A high-pitched “kik-kik-kik” sound is their most common call. One of the few raptors that is primarily identified by an alarm call, they are frequently utilized as an alarm call. Their small size and vulnerability are to blame for their demise.
In the video below, listen to their calls.
15. ARE SHARP-SHINNED HAWKS SMALL?
Females are 30% bigger than males and are often bigger or at least equal in size to other species’ males. Sharp-shinned hawks are prey for other raptors because they feed primarily on birds, thus they are difficult to study.