Sharp-shinned Hawk

The Sharp-shinned Hawk is the smallest of the three North American accipiters. The female is larger than the male. Adults have solid gray upperparts and barred, reddish-brown underparts. Their long, square tails have gray and black bars with very narrow, white tips. Their eyes are red. Immature birds are brown above with diffuse brown streaking below; they have yellow eyes. Sharp-shinned Hawks have short, rounded wings that are set slightly more forward on their bodies than those of the larger, but similar-looking, Cooper’s Hawk. Their heads are also relatively smaller and their gray caps less distinct than the Cooper’s. The white tip of the tail of the Cooper’s Hawk is usually wider than that of Sharp-shinned Hawk, especially in the fall. All of these differences are subtle, making it quite difficult to distinguish a male Cooper’s Hawk from a female Sharp-shinned Hawk.