Bird Database

Sharp-shinned Hawk

(Accipiter striatus)

State of the Birds
At a Glance



Short distance




Habitat loss and fragmentation

Conservation Actions

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Sharp-shinned Hawk

(Accipiter striatus)

The “Sharpie,” as it is affectionately called, is New Hampshire’s smallest “accipiter.” The latter name comes from the species’ genus, which includes two other hawks in the state: Cooper’s and American Goshawk. These are but three of dozens of species found worldwide, all of which are forest-dwellers that feed primarily on birds. All accipiters have relatively short, rounded wings which allow for increased maneuverability as they pursue their prey through woods and thickets.

Because Sharp-shinned Hawks are secretive during the nesting season and occur in low densities, getting solid data on populations is difficult. Historically it was considered relatively common, and during the Breeding Bird Atlas in the 1980s it significantly outnumbered the larger Cooper’s Hawk. In recent years, however, proportions of the two species seem to have flipped, as Cooper’s has spread throughout the state. Sharp-shins are still common during migration, where totals at hawk watches are second only to those of the Broad-winged Hawk, but numbers have been declining.

Reasons for the decline are poorly understood. Historically, the species was persecuted for its bird-eating habitats and negatively affected by DDT and other pesticides, but both threats have largely been eliminated. Attention has turned instead to habitat changes on its expansive breeding grounds in the boreal forest of Canada, which could result from climate change or changes to harvesting practices. It’s even been proposed that declines in migratory songbirds could reduce reproductive success. Alternatively, the sharpie’s dependance on songbirds could result in more individuals remaining north in the winter to prey on feeder birds, and not migrating as far. This is called “short-stopping” and can result in negative population trends at migration sites simply because fewer hawks are migrating as far as they used to.

Seasonal Abundance

Relative abundance based on eBird data. Numbers indicate likelihood of finding this species in suitable habitat at a given time of year, not actual numbers encountered.

Sharp-shinned Hawk
Range Map

Information for the species profiles on this website was compiled from a combination of the sources listed below.

  • The Birds of New Hampshire. By Allan R. Keith and Robert B. Fox. 2013. Memoirs of the Nuttall Ornithological club No. 19.

  • Atlas of the Breeding Birds of New Hampshire. Carol R. Foss, ed. 1994. Arcadia Publishing Company and Audubon Society of New Hampshire

  • Birds of the World. Various authors and dates. Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

  • Data from the Breeding Bird Survey

  • Data from the Christmas Bird Count