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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sharp-shinned Hawk in Hillwood - Update

(Update: Some questions have been raised as to whether this might actually be a juvenile Coopers Hawk, which are very similar though slightly larger typically than the "Sharpies". We will try to confirm further and get back to you.)

Hillwood residents, David Matthews and Wendy Zieve captured this shot of a 
"Sharp-shinned Hawk" today in Shoreline's Hillwood neighborhood.

Sharp- Shinned Hawk
ph credit - David Matthews

The hawk seemed very interested in some bugs located near their backyard pool. The Matthews/Zieve family live near CRISTA campus which has large sections of forested terrain.

Seattle Audubon's site has useful information about all our local birds -

Sharp-shinned Hawk or Accipiter striatus

Fairly common winter. Uncommon breeder.

General Description

The Sharp-shinned Hawk is the smallest of the three North American accipiters. The female is larger than the male. Adults have solid gray upperparts and barred, reddish-brown underparts. Their long, square tails have gray and black bars with very narrow, white tips. Their eyes are red. Immature birds are brown above with diffuse brown streaking below; they have yellow eyes. Sharp-shinned Hawks have short, rounded wings that are set slightly more forward on their bodies than those of the larger, but similar-looking, Cooper's Hawk. Their heads are also relatively smaller and their gray caps less distinct than the Cooper's. The white tip of the tail of the Cooper's Hawk is usually wider than that of Sharp-shinned Hawk, especially in the fall. All of these differences are subtle, making it quite difficult to distinguish a male Cooper's Hawk from a female Sharp-shinned Hawk.

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