SHARP-SHINNED HAWK

Sharp-shinned hawks can be seen in Essex County almost every month of the year, though no month is better than September, when they move through the area in tremendous numbers.  The hawk tower at Holiday Beach Conservation Area during September offers a unique vantage point to view this species.  You’ll see them moving over the trees tops and above the tower, with their distinctive “flap, flap, glide” flight pattern.  The Tip of Point Pelee National Park, particularly during south winds, also offer the opportunity for a close up look of this small hawk.

Size & Shape
Sharp-shinned Hawks are small, long-tailed hawks with short, rounded wings. They have small heads that in flight do not always project beyond the “wrists” of the wings. The tail tends to be square-tipped and may show a notch at the tip. Females are considerably larger than males.

Color Pattern
Adults are slate blue-gray above, with narrow, horizontal red-orange bars on the breast. Immature birds are mostly brown, with coarse vertical streaks on white underparts. Adults and young have broad dark bands across their long tails.

Behaviour
Sharp-shinned Hawks are agile fliers that speed through dense woods to surprise their prey, typically songbirds. They do not stoop on prey from high overhead. They may also pounce from low perches. When flying across open areas they have a distinctive flap-and-glide flight style.

Habitat
Sharp-shinned Hawks breed in deep forests. During migration, look for them in open habitats or high in the sky, migrating along ridgelines. During the nonbreeding season they hunt small birds and mammals along forest edges and sometimes at backyard bird feeders, causing a wave of high-pitched alarm calls among the gathered songbirds.

*Image and description were sourced from: allaboutbirds.org


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