Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
The sharp-shinned hawk is a small accipiter about the size of a bluejay. The sharp-shinned hawk can be easily confused with the Cooper's hawk, but the smaller size and squared tail can help to recognize it from the Cooper's hawk which is about the size of a crow and has a rounded tail.
Sharp-shinned hawks prefer habitat that is a mix of dense coniferous or mixed coniferous/deciduous forests. Coniferous forests are preferred over deciduous forests for nest sites across the sharp-shinned hawk's North American range. It can be found nesting in the Turtle Mountains and wooded areas along rivers in North Dakota.
Sharp-shinned hawks are fierce, bold hunters that prey primarily on small birds. They hunt either by cruising through wooded areas or dense brush and flushing small birds and then overtaking them in flight; or by sitting on a perch and watching for unsuspecting prey. Once prey is captured, the sharp-shinned hawk takes it to a site known as the "butcher block" or "plucking perch" where the prey is plucked and then eaten. The most commonly taken avian prey is the robin due to its easy catchability.
The sharp-shinned hawk nests from April to July and can be seen in North Dakota from early April until late September. The female lays 4 or 5 eggs and incubation is done by both the female and the male and it takes about 35 days for the eggs to hatch.