Monday, December 15, 2008

Bird of the Week - XV

This week's "Bird of the Week" is the Sharp-shinned Hawk. If you are a back yard bird feeder, you have probably had a Sharped-shinned hawk zip through your yard attempting to catch a bird. The "Sharpies" are built to chase and catch small birds. They will hunt birds using a low, stealthy approach-flight or after a short chase. They use cover such as trees and bushes, and man-made structures like fences, to conceal approach. They will catch birds at bird feeders, too.

The Sharp-shinned hawk is a small hawk with a long, barred tail that ends with a square tip. Its wings are short and rounded. The adults have a blue-gray back and wings with reddish barring on their underparts.

The female Sharp-shinned hawk is about the size of a Blue Jay or a Mourning Dove, with the female bigger than the male.

Sightings of Sharp-shinned hawks in our area have dropped over the past 10 years. We are now seeing more Cooper's Hawks at feeders. It can be a challenge to tell the two species apart.

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