Raptor Wednesday

Sharpie! The little Accipiter, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Accipiter striatus.This was the bird who did not like our male American Kestrel back in the middle of February.But it wasn’t all sortie after sortie.This is a juvenile female. The males are substantially smaller: on average just a midge smaller than an American Kestrel, in fact. The one time I saw a male close up (I was looking through a picture window) I was quite surprised how petit he was. Accipiters have some of the greatest sexual dimorphism in birds: females are generally larger in raptors, but for these forest hawks, the disparity is substantial. There’s actually some overlap in size between a female Sharp-shinned and a male Cooper’s. Some more on this classic field question.

This common name, “Sharp-shinned” isn’t in the least helpful unless you have a bird in hand. (And with those talons, look out!) The “striatus” in the binomial means streaked.

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