Sharp-shinned Hawk

Accipiter striatus

The Sharp-shinned Hawk is becoming a year-round resident in parts of Texas and is common throughout the United States. It is usually found in wooded areas. They have not adapted as well to the destruction of habitat as the Cooper’s Hawk. This accipiter is very similar to the Cooper’s Hawk in plumage and the two can be confused. Sharp-shinned Hawks have smaller head size compared to their body, whereas the Cooper’s Hawk has a large, square head. Legs on Sharp-shinned Hawks are very thin.

Species information:

Length: 11”
Wingspan: 22”
Weight: 4 oz.

Plumage: Similar to Cooper’s Hawk. Adults have a dark head, back and wings. The chest has rusty red horizontal barring. The tail is long and alternates dark brown and light gray horizontal stripes. The tip of the tail is white and square compared to the rounded tail of the Cooper’s Hawk. Iris changes color with age from light yellow to a dark raspberry red. Immature looks very different. Brown head, back and wings. Chest has vertical brown stripes. Tail similar to adult.

Habitat: Found in woodlands.

Flight: A fast-moving bird with strong wing beats. Normal flight pattern of accipiters is flap-flap-glide, flap-flap-glide. When chasing prey it will dive into bushes or trees without slowing down. In flight, the wings are as far forward as the head.

Vocalization: A loud, fast kik-kik-kik, especially when protecting the nest.

Food: Small birds and mammals, insects, frogs and lizards.

Nesting: Found in trees. Made new each year of sticks. They usually lay 4 eggs that are incubated for about 35 days. Young fledge in about 3-4 weeks.