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Sharp-shinned hawk (Accipiter striatus)

Sharp-shinned hawkPhoto credit: Dave Willman @

NH Conservation Status: Not listed


Federal Status: Not listed; Sharp-shinned hawks are legally protected in New Hampshire. Possession and take (which includes harming, harassing, injuring and killing) is illegal.


Distribution: Breeds throughout New Hampshire. Winters in central and southern parts of the state. Common migrant in late April, September and October.


Description: 10-14” long with a 17-22” wingspan. The smallest hawk in North America. Both males and females have a dark grayish back and rusty barred chest. Long, banded tail is square when perched.


Voice: High pitched, fast, “kik, kik, kik”.


Commonly Confused Species: Cooper’s hawk tail is rounded when perched.


Habitat: Mixed or coniferous forests bordering clearings or openings such as meadows.


Nesting: Typically nest in medium sized coniferous trees such as white pine or hemlock. Nests are built in april - June on a limb close to the tree trunk. Sharp-shinned hawks have one brood per year. Females lay 4-5 eggs which hatch after 35 days of incubation. Chicks are able to fly between 24-27 days of age.


Diet: Primarily preys on small birds and small mammals and prefers to hunt over open areas.