NOTICE:

To better serve site visitors, Government of Alberta ministry web content is being centralized on Alberta.ca. Webpages on this ministry site will be either relocated to Alberta.ca or removed over the next few months. Messaging and redirects will help guide you to updated content during and after this transition. Scheduled completion date for this project is March 31, 2019. Thank you for your patience as we proceed with these changes.

Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter stratus)

Description
Sharp-shinned hawk

Size

  • One of the ways the sharp-shinned hawk is recognized in the field is by its small size, about 30 centimetres (12 inches) long.

Appearance

  • Sharp-shinned hawks have a notched or square tail, and rust-coloured, barred under parts.
  • The back and crown are a dark slate grey, and four dark bands stripe the tail.
Distribution
  • The range includes most of North America and northern South America.
  • Sharp-shinned hawks breed in an area extending from northern Alaska south to California.
  • Winters are spent south of Canada. In Alberta this species is usually found in the Rocky Mountain, foothill, boreal forest and parkland natural regions.
Natural History

Food

  • During hunting flights it flies low over trees in search of prey. Small birds and insects constitute the bulk of its diet.
Reproduction and Growth

Breeding Behavior

  • Nests are generally a flat platform of twigs lined with bark.
  • Four to five eggs are laid.
Conservation and Management

Status

The sharp-shinned hawk is classified as Secure in the General Status of Alberta Wild Species report:

Current management

Like all raptors in Alberta, the sharp-shinned hawk is protected by the provincial Wildlife Act and classified as a non-game species.

Similar Species
  • Cooper's hawk

    The sharp-shinned hawk may be confused with a young Cooper's hawk, but the sharp-shinned hawk has rounded wings and lacks the toothed beak.
  • Merlin

    The sharp-shinned hawk can resemble a merlin, but the sharp-shinned hawk has a squared tail.

Like most accipiters, the sharp-shinned hawk seldom soars, except during migration.

 

Page Information

Posted: Oct 16, 2009