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Nature Notebook – Sharp-shinned Hawks

While watching the birds and squirrels eat on our seed logs, the naturalists observed a visitor that brings new meaning to the word “birdfeeder.” A Sharp-shinned Hawk had swooped in hoping to grab a snack of a tasty Tufted Titmouse or a Black-capped Chickadee. The gray squirrel, too large to become a meal, chased the intruder away.

As the hawk migration continues more people will see these, or Cooper’s Hawks, hanging around their bird-feeding stations.    If you only get a quick glance, it may be difficult to distinguish between the two Accipiter species (hawks that feed primarily on birds).

Train yourself to look for these signs. The Sharp-shin is smaller (about the size of that squirrel), has stick-like legs and its tail has a square tip with a narrow white band. The Cooper’s Hawk is larger, has stout legs, and its tail is longer and rounded with a wide white band.