Hawk, Sharp-shinned

Sharp-shinned hawkLatin name: Accipiter striatus

Length, wingspan: 11″, 23″

What they eat: Carnivorous (primarily small birds)

Plants that attract: Wooded areas, bird activity at bird-feeding stations

Where they nest: Forests, conifers

My observations: Sharp-shinned hawks are the smallest of the three Accipiters, with Cooper’s hawks being the mid-sized model and Northern Goshawks being the largest. These small raptors fly around and through trees with the greatest of ease, relying on their ability to surprise and catch small birds. Since our bird feeders and dense-planted landscape attracts a lot of songbirds, it has caught the attention of these hawks as a great place to find lunch. While it can be upsetting to discover one of your favorite birds has become a meal, this is exactly how nature works. It’s all a balance and all birds, great and small, are vital to the ecosystem. These hawks are winter visitors to our garden; we continually marvel at how beautifully they blend in with their surroundings. They nest in the mountains.

Here’s a video of a Sharp-shinned hawk sitting in one of our crabapple trees:

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