Sharp-Shinned Hawk

Accipiter striatus
Range Map

The Sharp-Shinned Hawk is a small version of the Cooper’s Hawk. Like most raptors, the female is much larger than the male. As with the Cooper’s, this bird hunts mostly smaller birds. When one of these raptors shows up in your yard, all the smaller birds will scatter.

The range for these raptors is most of North America. Much of the population migrates to Canada to breed, and others are resident in their chosen territories.

South America has resident populations in the northern Andes Mountains and another spread over southeastern Brasil, into northern Argentina.

Science classifies ten subspecies of Sharp-Shinned Hawks, and separate them into three groups.

In the Caribbean group are:

  • A. s. fringilloides resident in Cuba.
  • A. s. striatus lives in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
  • A. s. venator lives in Puerto Rico.

The Northern group has three members:

  • A. s. perobscurus breeds in British Columbia and migrates south to Oregon.
  • A. s. velox breeds in most of North America and some (not all) migrate south, some as far as Central America.
  • A. s. suttoni is resident in Mexico.

The third group is the so called Madrean group:

  • A. s. madrensis lives in southern Mexico.
  • A. s. chionogaster lives in southern Mexico and Central America.
  • A. s. ventralis lives in northern South America.
  • A. s. erythronemius lives in southern Brasil, Uruguay, Bolivia and Paraguay.

Until my visit to Quinta Mazatlan, a 20 acre reserve in McAllen (Texas) in 2021, I struggled to achieve a satisfying meeting with this species. That all changed when I encountered a bathing beauty enjoying a water feature along the pathway through the wooded acreage, and the bird boldly tolerated my presence for 20 minutes only 20 feet away.

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