Sharp-shinned hawk keeps eagle eye on birdfeeders

Sunday, December 9, 2012

If you feed songbirds, you may eventually see a hawk scaring them away from your bird feeder. A sharp-shinned hawk will likely be the culprit.

This hawk will often fly up and land in a nearby tree, on top of a fencepost or some other lofty perch and watch small birds at a feeder.

After awhile when the hawk thinks he can surprise and catch one of the songbirds, it will swoop in. You will see the songbirds quickly scatter in alarm to evade the hawk.

It is a good idea to place your bird feeder near some bushes which the songbirds can immediately dart into.

Look for a hawk sitting somewhere nearby if you notice that there are no birds at your feeder during a time when you expect them to be feeding, especially when the feeder has seed in it.

The Cooper's hawk is very similar to the sharp-shinned hawk.

Both hawks hunt the same way, often diving into thick brush after their prey. The sharp-shinned hawk is a bit smaller with fewer bars on its tail and a less rectangular body shape than the Cooper's hawk.

The sharp-shinned hawk is larger than the kestrel, which is another hawk that may come to a bird feeder to catch and eat a songbird.

All three of these hawks are native to Southeast Missouri.

Through the Woods is a weekly nature photo column by Aaron Horrell. Find this column at semissourian.com to order a reprint of the photo. Find more work by Aaron at The Painted Wren Gallery.

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