Sharp-shinned Hawk

Accipiter striatus

Summary 4

The Sharp-shinned Hawk is often confused with its slightly larger relative, the Cooper’s Hawk. Both species are blue-gray above and streaked rusty-red below with long tails, yellow legs, and small, hooked beaks. However, the Sharp-shinned Hawk has a squared-off tail (Cooper’s Hawks have rounded tails), and is slightly smaller at 10-14 inches long. The Sharp-shinned Hawk exhibits the greatest difference in size between males and females (known as sexual dimorphism) of any raptor in North America, with females weighing almost twice as much as males.

The Sharp-shinned Hawk also breeds less widely than the Cooper’s Hawk. While that species breeds across the United States and southern Canada, the Sharp-shinned Hawk’s main breeding range is restricted to the Canadian sub-arctic and higher elevation areas of the Appalachians and Rockies. This species migrates south in winter, when it may be found more widely across the U.S.In its range, the Sharp-shinned Hawk is among the most adaptable raptors. While usually found in forest habitats, this species has expanded into human-altered landscapes and now frequents towns and suburbs as well.

The Sharp-shinned Hawk, like all ‘bird hawks,’ is capable of hunting birds from the air. In fact, this species is known for entering yards to take small songbirds from feeders. With the aid of binoculars, Sharp-shinned Hawks may be seen perched in trees while scanning for prey. However, they are often more easily seen in the air while moving between perches or while actively hunting. As this species hunts by sight, it is only active during the day.

Threat Status: Least concern

Sources and Credits

  1. (c) Kerry Matz, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA),
  2. (c) Chuck Roberts. (3/3/32 - 12/4/13), some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-ND),
  3. (c) Don Loarie, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA),
  4. Adapted by carmacks_bioblitz from a work by (c) Unknown, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA),

More Info

Range Map

iNatCA Map

Animal Bird
Color brown, white
Bird Accipitridae (hawk harrier & eagles)