The beautiful sharp-shinned hawk comparable in size to a blue jay.
An acrobatic flier, they appear out of nowhere and disappear in a flurry of feathers. This species has long legs, short wings and a long, squared-off tail with small heads. They use the long tails with a dark wide band to navigate the woods. These agile hawks speed through the woods to surprise their prey.
Sharp-shinned hawks have yellow to deep-red colored eyes with a hooked bill they use to rip prey apart.
Sharp-shinned hawks have a broad chest and thin pencil-like legs.
If you happen to spot an area in the woods where you see lots of feathers or bird parts it usually means a sharp -shinned hawk feeding perch is close by. Sharp-shinned hawks often pounce on their prey from low perches. They eat songbirds, mice, frogs, insects and other small rodents.
These hawks are easiest to spot this time of the year is when during a southward migration.
When the sharp-shinned hawk is in flight their wings are pushed forward covering their small heads. These hawks flying they have a distinctive flap-and-glide flying style with several short wing beats followed by short glides. Like other hawks the sharp-shinned hawk usually takes its prey to a feeding perch, often dead trees or fallen logs.
The much larger Coopers hawk is often mistaken for the sharp-shinned hawk.
Sharp- shinned hawks have a broad chest and thin pencil-like legs much longer than the Coppers hawk.
Several state 0arks in Southwest Florida harbor several hawk species, including the Gasparilla Island State Park. Sharp-shinned hawks can often be spotted sitting on low power lines as well as telephone wires getting into position to pounce on prey.
Backyard feeders are a great place to spot sharp-shinned hawks. They are curious and have adapted well to living near humans. I have been able to walk almost directly under this species of hawks and take photos without upsetting them or making them fly away.