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Sharp-shinned hawk        Images © Mark A. Chappell

Like their close relatives the Cooper's hawk and northern goshawk, sharp-shinned hawks are fast-flying woodland ambush hunters.   Sharp-shins (especially males) are the smallest of the three species and specialize on small birds.   Adults are blue-gray above and rusty-barred below while first-year birds are brownish with heavy ventral streaking.   In many cases it's very hard to distinguish female sharpies from male 'Coops', as the markings and size are very similar.   The adult female sharpie below at left was photographed in strong backlight at Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico; the juvenile in the right photo paused briefly on a dead spruce near the Glenn Highway in south-central Alaska; the adult and juvenile above were in Riverside, California, and the bird on the power pole was on the Big Sur coast.   None of them was very confiding and only one was in good light, so some of these photos are far from ideal in quality.

  • Canon 1D Mk. II or 7D2, 500 mm f4 IS lens + 2X converter or 800 mm IS lens plus 1.4X converter, fill-in flash (2004, 2005, 2007, 2015, 2016)