Plumage/Description: Adult male/female plumage similar, although females are larger than males. Adult plumage includes a dark crown, a slaty-blue-gray back and wings, pronounced horizontal barring on tail, with alternating dark and light bands. Breast is a rich golden-orange color, with extensive fluffy white under-tail coverts. Juvenile plumage is very different from adults. In juvenile phase the head, back and wings are brown, with flecks of white feathers interspersed. The breast has dark brown vertical streaking over a solid white breast. Juveniles have the same barred tail as adults, and also have extensive white in under-tail coverts.
Habitat: Oak/Chaparral, Pinyon/Juniper, Ponderosa, Residential, Riparian/Deciduous
Time of year: Fall and winter mostly
Relative Abundance: Fairly common
Behavior: Sharp-shinned Hawks are usually confused with their larger cousin, Cooper’s Hawk. Sharp-shins are significantly smaller than Cooper’s Hawk, and usually prey on smaller birds, such as juncos, sparrows, and finches, whereas Cooper’s Hawks go for larger prey such as Mourning Doves and Gambel’s Quail.
Diet: Birds, small mammals
Similar species: Cooper’s Hawk
Best Sites: Hard to specify a specific location since they frequently occur in residential areas, particularly at backyard bird feeding stations.