Here are two types of raptors that I have been seeing since the late summer in the wooded and field areas behind my home. The sharp-shinned hawk, I first heard and saw two of them back in mid-August, in the wooded area. The red-tailed hawk, I noticed in mid-September, in the open field area. The colors of young raptors are usually browns with mottled patterns, they develop adult plumage after first spring molt for the sharp-shinned hawks and after two years for red-tailed hawks.


The Sharp-shinned hawk is the smallest accipiter in North America, they live in woods and forest edges. They are distinct with long legs, short wings, and very long striped tails. The females are usually larger than the males. Sharp-shinned hawks surprise their prey with acrobatic and agile flight through dense woods. During non-breeding seasons, they can be seen hunting along forest edges or in backyards. They eat mice and songbirds.  The sharp-shinned reference is the raised ridge on the inside front of the tarsus. Their voice is a high and shrill “kik, kik, kik”. This particular bird I found on my fence in the back yard, they are known for stalking prey where there are bird feeders.


The Red-tailed hawk is the most common hawk in North America. The marking they all have, no matter what age, is the patagal black bar between the shoulder and wrist. They can be found soaring in wide circles above fields or sitting on snags or poles, looking for rodents or rabbits. They attack slow and dive with legs outstretched. The females are larger than males. There are many sub-species of red-tailed hawks, the colors and markings vary widely, but they all have the patagal bar.

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