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Friday, October 5, 2018

SHARP-SHINED HAWKS IN FLIGHT, ROSETTA MCCLAIN GARDENS,SCARBOROUGH,TORONTO,ON, 10/4/18

   Yesterday we attended for about an hour (from about 11am to 12 pm) the Raptor Watch at Rosetta McClain Gardens in Scarborough, Toronto.  It had been raining that morning, but it cleared up by the time we arrived.  There was a brisk NW wind.
   During the day, the Raptor Watch sighted 276 Sharp-shined Hawks and many other raptors.  During the time we were at the watch we personally sighted over 40 Sharp-shined Hawks.
   We can ID the raptor in the various photos as a Sharp-shined Hawk by the following:
  • Small size - this is particularly important because the very similar Cooper's Hawk is larger (10-14" vs 15-20").  We estimate that the hawks we photographed were 12"+-.  This is the best indicator that this is a Sharp-shined Hawk, not a Cooper's Hawk.
  • Rufous underparts
  • Underwing pattern - Rufous underwing coverts and armpits; rest of underwing has black and white barring
  • Small head and short neck
  • Medium length, slightly rounded tail with black and white (or grayish) banding and narrowly tipped white.

       The Sharp-shinned Hawk is the smallest hawk in the U.S. and Canada.  This hawk breeds as far north as the treeline in Alaska and Canada. It winters as far south as Panama.  It is during migration that the Sharp-shin or Sharpie is most likely to be seen in numbers, with dozens or even hundreds passing at some favored points on coastlines, lake shores and mountain ridges.
       The Sharp-shinned Hawk is a new species to our Photographic Life List, which now stands at 798.