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Welcome to my blog. This will be an ongoing blog in which I will discuss things I am working on, as well as my thoughts on wildlife conservation. Please come back to this page regularly, as I will update it from time to time.

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January 12, 2014

Miracles of Migration XII: The Sharp Shinned Hawk

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 10:17 am

The Sharp Shinned Hawk is the smallest of the hawks in North America. The Latin name of the Sharp Shinned Hawk’s Latin name is Accipiter Striatus. The range of this gorgeous little hawk is all across North America, the breeding grounds are in Southern Canada and northern United States. The birds migrate south in the fall and some remain resident in the east and west coastal woodlands most go south to Mexico and further south to Northern South America.


The Sharp shinned Hawk belongs to the group of Accipiters which are long tailed hawks with short rounded wings and lives in Woodlands. The flight pattern is several quick wing beats followed by a glide. The size is variable with males being smaller than the females, the males are from 9 to 13 inches long and with a wing span of 17 to 23 inches. The females are 10 to 14 inches long and the wing span is 23 to 27 inches. The top of the head and back are a bluish gray and can look almost black, the head is small with a sharp beak. The cheeks are slightly reddish. The chest is barred with reddish and white stripes the lower belly is mostly white with some barring. The feet are yellow with sharp talons.


The diet of the Sharp Shinned Hawks is other birds. I recall being horrified and amazed at a bird that has evolved to dine on other birds. I ought not to be horrified, after I have long known that the King Cobra dines on other snakes. The Sharp Shinned Hawks fly into thick vegetation and woodlands pursuing their prey. The males eat small song birds, sparrows, warblers and wrens. The females eat robins and thrushes. The nesting habits are secretive and the nests are built in deep dense conifer forests. The clutch is usually 3 to 4 eggs, after 30 days incubation the eggs hatch, then another 3 weeks of brooding followed by fledging. The parents feed the chicks for another month.


Migration is in small groups or larger groups and begins in September and October. Hawk watchers often note the large numbers of Sharp Shinned Hawks in the streams of migrating Hawks and Vultures as they fly south for wintering grounds. These are large birds and their migration is to soar and glide on thermals. They are not powered fliers during migration. They are daytime fliers soaring 600 or more feet above ground level. They use the updrafts created by the wind getting deflected off trees and ridges. The migratory path is over land and the flying is from when the thermals begin in the mid morning and are over by mid afternoon. The Hawks rest for one or several days before undertaking the next leg of the journey. They consume small songbirds all along the migratory path. The sharp Shinned Hawk is a beautiful creation and looks sleek and quick as it darts into woodlands. However, it is hard not to have mixed feelings about the songbirds that get consumed as the Sharp Shinned Hawks go through their journey. In April the Sharp Shinned Hawks fly back north to their breeding grounds.



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