Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sharp-shinned Hawk

We were sitting in the RV and heard quite a crash and a lot of wing flapping in the tree right outside our door. Mark took his camera out and found this guy (or gal) hanging out. Apparently he wasn't too successful in grabbing a house sparrow!

The Sharp-shinned Hawk is the smallest bird-hunting Accipiter hawk*(10" to 14"). Like most hawks, the female is larger than the male. The Sharp-shinned Hawk is also the most migratory. It breeds in Alaska and Canada and winters in Panama. It mostly eats small birds by approaching stealthily through dense cover, then bursting forth with incredibly swift flight to capture prey in its talons.

Numbers dropped in mid-20th century, possibly as a result of DDT and other pesticides in the food chain, then recovered somewhat through early 1980s. Since that time, counts of migrants in the east have shown significant declines again.

* There are 3 Accipiter hawks in the US (Accipiter is the genus). They primarily feed on birds. They are: Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, and Northern Goshawk.

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