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Our Free Newsletter: The Birder Alert!
There are three species of Accipiters in North
America. The smallest is the Sharp-shinned Hawk, the medium sized is the
Cooper's Hawk and the largest is the Northern Goshawk. (There are 47 species of Accipiter world-wide).
Accipiters are considered true hawks,
characterized by long tails and short rounded wings, which have evolved for
catching prey in forested areas.
Click on thumbnail for larger photo and more
specific information. Please remember the
The short rounded wings allow for fast acceleration and aid in dodging around and going between trees and branches.
The long tail aids in braking and making fast turns.
Though Accipiters are adapted for hunting and
nesting in forested areas, they can also be found nesting in riparian areas or
even isolated clumps of trees. They can also be seen hunting in open areas
within several miles of their nests.
"Sharpies", "Coops" and Goshawks are most
commonly seen during migration (esp. Fall Migration), where they can be seen
flying with their typical flap-flap-flap-glide pattern.
North American Accipiters prey on a variety of
birds and mammals.
Sharp-shinned Hawks prey almost exclusively on
Cooper's Hawks prey on small mammals, lizards and
medium sized birds.
Northern Goshawks feed on small & medium sized
mammals and medium to large sized birds.
species are size dimorphic, meaning that one sex is larger than the other. They are also referred to as reversed size dimorphic because the females are larger than the males (as with most raptor species). See individual
species for more specific information.
The reversed size dimorphism has long been known by falconers. The old falconry term for a male is tiercel, which means "a third less". Check back from time to time...We will be adding more
information in the future.