Saturday, February 21, 2015

Sharp-shinned Hawk

On Friday morning, Erika and I were reading in our sunroom, which looks out at our bird feeders. Suddenly a small Accipiter swooped around the feeders, narrowly missing our picture window, and perched on an overhanging tree branch. Its square-ended tail feathers indicate Sharp-shinned Hawk. The small size probably means it is a male. The iris color, between yellow and orange, signifies a second-year bird. The good news is that I had my camera on the table in front of me. Unfortunately this gray day was not ideal for photography. After a couple of minutes, the hawk launched itself back towards the empty feeders, banking sideways, with its feet towards the feeders, and disappeared into the woods.

Sharp-shinned Hawks are renown for consuming small birds. This species often takes songbirds at bird feeders (Bildstein and Meyer 2000). These authors cite studies that show birds comprised 91 to 100 percent of Sharp-shinned diets in various samples around the country. Mammalian prey, however, sometimes made up a greater mass of the diet than did birds, especially late in the breeding season.

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