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Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus)


sharpshinned hawk Name Derivation:

Accipiter: derived from Latin accipere meaning "to take or seize", referring to the genus' habit of seizing prey
striatus: Latin for striped, referring to the tail pattern
Sharp-shinned refers the amount of leg exposed below the feathering;
Hawk: from the Teutonic base word hab, meaning "to seize or take hold", the word evolved into Middle English hauk from which comes "hawk".

Other names:

Little Blue Darter; Spanish - esmerejón coludo, gavilán pajarero


Class: Aves; Order: Falconiformes; Family: Accipitridae

Key Identification Characters:

Adult: dark blue-gray upper parts, underparts barred with rufous color; tail long with end slightly notched or squared; in flight, wings relatively short and rounded; eyes yellow-orange to red; immature: brownish upperparts with white spots on back, brown streaking on breast; tail as with adult; eyes pale yellow; generally small size, males and females look similar but females often larger than males. Length, 11"; wingspan, 23".


North America southward to Argentina, West Indies.
El Paso Region: fairly common migrant and winter resident, occasional nesting at higher elevations


Mainly small birds, some small mammals including bats, some insects (grasshoppers, dragonflies, beetles, large butterflies), rarely lizards, snakes and frogs.


Number of eggs/clutch: normally 4 or 5; egg: bluish white, blotched and spotted with shades of brown, 1.45 x 1.15"; nesting: concealed in conifer trees near hunting areas, about 10 to 60' above ground, a shallow platform of interwoven conifer twigs


Photo Credit: Tom Brakefield, © California Academy of Sciences.

Contributor: Scott M. Cutler, Curator of Collections and Exhibits; Curator of Ornithology