Sharp Shinned Hawk, Juvenile, Call, Size, Nest & Flight, Facts

There is a variety of migratory birds and a lot to know about them. If we talk about hawks, they are very interesting ‘birds of prey’ to discover. Today in this article, we will tell you about the smallest of the hawk, the rarest of the rare, the one and only Sharp Shinned Hawk. Starting from their life history, we will tell you about their habitat, their diet, their flying behavior, and many more things. So, go through this blog which is stuffed with fun facts about the sharp-shinned hawk.


  • The babies of sharp-shinned are commonly known as baby sharp-shinned hawks, with males being the shortest. Accipiter Striatus is another name for the sharp-shinned hawk.
  • This species is the most migratory, breeding north of the treeline in Alaska and Canada and wintering in Panama.
  • It breeds primarily in Canada and Alaska in North America, migrating south into the continental United States, Mexico, and Central America.
  • After 3-4 weeks young move out of the nest to the nearby branches. The young ones can fly after 5-6 weeks.
  • Generally, Sharp-Shinned Hawk has an average lifespan of 5 to 6 years. But some Birds recorded living for 10 to 12 years. Being hunted by larger animals is the main cause of their deaths.
  • Usually, the bird lays 4-5 eggs. The incubation period is of 30-35 days.
  • Birds are constantly caught at bird feeders, and young birds are taken from nests. It pulls the feathers from birds they catch before eating them.
  • The current recorded population of Sharp-Shinned Hawk is over 1 million.

Juvenile Sharp Shinned Hawk 

  • Basically, a Juvenile Sharp Shinned Hawk is a young, immature, and inexperienced Sharp-Shinned Hawk. 
  • Sometimes newborn Sharp Shinned Hawks are also considered juveniles. Juveniles are brown-colored and have vertical streaks on unexplored body parts.
  • In their younger days, most juveniles stay in nests while some may step out. Only after getting at least 5 weeks old, do juveniles learn and attempt to fly.

Read Also: What Makes Osprey Bird Unique, Nest, Speed, Sound, Wingspan

Sharp Shinned Hawk’s Characteristic


  1. Adults have narrow, horizontal red-orange stripes on the breast and are slaty blue-gray above.
  2. Immature birds are primarily brown, with white underparts with coarse vertical streaks.
  3. Adults and young have broad dark bands running down the length of their lengthy tails.


  1. Male birds, weight between 87 and 114 grams.
  2. Females, weight 150 to 218 grams.


  1. They are considered the smallest hawk birds in North America.
  2. Males range in length from 24 to 27 centimeters.
  3. While females are larger, ranging in length from 29 to 34 centimeters.


  1. Males have a wingspan of 53 to 56 cm.
  2. Females have a wingspan of 58 to 65 cm.

Sharp Shinned Hawk Call

  • The call or sound of a Sharp shinned hawk call is loud and high-pitched. This particular bird can easily be distinguished by listening to its calls. 
  • Male and female Sharp-Shinned Hawks communicate with each other with exciting sounds of Kik – Kik -Kik during mating. Sharp-Shinned Hawks make a single sharp appealing call during flight.

Read Also: What Is Special About the Red-Tailed Hawk?

Sharp Shinned Hawk’s Behavior

  • The majority of North American populations are migratory, with some flying over 1500 kilometers.
  • With four or five km. fast, sharp wing beats followed by a short glide, these hawks fly in a direct, purposeful manner just at or below tree-top height.
  • Small mammals and huge insects are also eaten by them.
  • They are monogamous and only have a single pair of offspring.

Sharp Shinned Hawk in Flight

  • As Sharp Shinned Hawks are migrating birds they are capable of taking long flight hours. 
  • Generally, Sharp Shinned Hawk during migration takes a flight above 400 meters. This makes us difficult to see them with the naked eye. 
  • When gliding, a Sharp Shinned Hawk keeps its wings pushed forward.

Food & Diet

 Food & Diet of the Sharp Shinned Hawk
In This Image, the Food & Diet of the Sharp Shinned Hawk
  • They mostly feed on small birds. The most common prey are birds the size of American Robins or smaller (particularly warblers, sparrows, and thrushes).
  • On the other hand, larger birds are not that vulnerable, but not fully safe. Quail, shorebirds, doves, swifts, woodpeckers, and even falcons are some of the prey of this creature.
  • Small rodents like mice and voles, as well as the rare moth or grasshopper, are also eaten by them.
  • Their diet consists almost entirely of songbirds.


  • This type of hawk lives in coniferous or mixed forests and avoids open areas.
  • They appear to prefer coniferous woodlands, while Cooper’s Hawks appear to prefer deciduous forests.
  • They can be seen in woodlots, villages, and parks throughout the winter.


 Nest of the Sharp Shinned Hawk
In This Image, the Nest of the Sharp Shinned Hawk
  • They prefer conifer trees as nesting sites across their territory, but they may also use aspens and hardwood trees.
  • The nest is always built in a heavily forested area, usually near the top of a big tree but well below the canopy.
  •  Both members of the pair bring nesting materials to the site, and the female undertakes the majority of the work.


  • This creature usually only breeds once a year, laying 4 to 5 eggs.
  • Every other day, females normally lay one egg.
  • White or bluish eggs with brown markings.
  • The incubation period is considered to be around 30 days on average.
  • The mother plays a big role in the young for 16 to 23 days after they hatch, while the male guards take the responsibility for territory and also catch prey.

Read Also: How Many Different Kinds of Hawk Birds in North America?

Conservation & Threat

  • Between the 1940s and the 1970s, their population decreased. The insecticide DDT, which was widely used at the time, was poisonous to birds.
  • They are now facing new threats. Their food is decreasing in number, dangerous pollutants in the environment, and the destruction of their home are some examples of new threats.
  • The primary step that is taken for the conservation of this creature is to protect its habitat.

Male Vs. Female Sharp Shinned Hawk

  • Sharp-shinned Hawk females are approximately a third the size and weight of males. This is the typical recognition for most owls and hawks.
  • There are also color differences between the sexes.
  • Male Sharp Shinned Hawks are generally high-pitched when compared to females. 
  • Females give a thin and high-pitched call to communicate with males. 

Cooper’s Hawk Vs Sharp Shinned Hawk

Cooper's Hawk vs Sharp Shinned Hawk
In This Image, What is the difference between Cooper’s Hawk & Sharp Shinned Hawk
  • Despite a lot of similarities, there are only a few differences between Cooper’s Hawk and Sharp Shinned Hawk.
  • But you can still differentiate between both the similar-looking birds. 
  • A Cooper’s Hawk is 5 to 6 inches larger than a Sharp Shinned Hawk. 
  • Cooper’s Hawk has a dome-shaped head whereas Sharp Shinned Hawk has a smaller-sized and round head. 
  • Mostly Cooper’s Hawk neck feathers are light-colored but Sharp Shinned Hawk’s neck feathers are dark greyish.

Sharp Shinned Hawks for Sale 

  • Sharp Shinned are not available for sale in a definite sense. As per federal law in most countries, you can not buy a Sharp Shinned Hawk and keep it as a pet. It is illegal to catch, buy and sell a Sharp Shinned Hawk as well as other birds. Still, some people defeating the law, illegally keep Sharp Shinned Hawk in their houses.  

Fun Facts

  • They live in both North America and South America.
  • The Sharp Shinned Hawk is given its name because they have a sharp shin on the leading edges of its leg.
  • They are excellent hunters that dive through the forest and successfully capture their prey.
  • During their breeding season, the male and female fly above the sky, making calls.

Reference Links

Sharp-shinned Hawk-FAQ’s

Is a Sharp Shinned Hawk Rare?

Looking at their population and living places, Sharp-Shinned Hawks can be considered rare. They are only found in forests of North America, Central America, Argentina, Brazil, and a few other countries. Reports of the mid-19th century stated that these birds are getting less common day by day.

Are Sharp-Shinned Hawks Aggressive?

Generally, Sharp Shinned are cool-tempered and composed. But when it comes to an invasion in their nest and threat to their babies, they are very aggressive. Their beak strike alone can peel off human skin. So, they are neutral in behavior but when they detect any danger, they are extremely aggressive. 

What Does Sharp Shinned Hawk Eat?

Mostly they eat cockroaches, mice and other insects. But some were seen hunting small mammals and small birds. They also eat sparrows, robins, bats, snakes, lizards, frogs and worms.

What Do Sharp Shinned Hawks Sound Like?

In a general sense, a Sharp Shinned Hawk sounds loud and high-pitched. Mostly their call pattern is kik – kik – kik. But they make different sounds for different purposes like mating, flight, feeding etc. They differentiate between their intent by simply adjusting the loudness and pitch of sound.