Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)

Least Concern

Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus)


French: Épervier brun German: Eckschwanzsperber Spanish: Gavilán americano

Accipiter striatus


, 1808,

Santo Domingo, Hispaniola


Probably close to A. nisus and associated species (see A. nisus). Races chionogaster, ventralis and erythronemius often treated as three separate species (e.g. originally in HBW) on basis of “morphology, ecology and probably behaviour”#R#R, but review of museum material indicates that distinctiveness of these taxa greatly reduced by considerable amount of variation within each#R#R, in addition to which there is evidence of gene flow between highly variable ventralis and nearest erythronemius#R. Described form A. salvini is pale morph of ventralis. Ten subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. s. perobscurus Snyder, 1938 – W Canada (Queen Charlotte Is; possibly also mainland coast of British Columbia); winters S to California.
  • A. s. velox (A. Wilson, 1812) – Alaska and Canada E to Newfoundland, S in USA to California, Arizona and New Mexico and, in E, to Alabama; winters S to Panama.
  • A. s. suttoni van Rossem, 1939 – N & C Mexico (perhaps extreme S New Mexico, in S USA) S locally to Michoacán and W Veracruz.
  • A. s. madrensis Storer, 1952 – Guerrero and W Oaxaca (S Mexico).
  • A. s. fringilloides Vigors, 1827 – Cuba.
  • A. s. striatus Vieillot, 1808 – Sharp-shinned Hawk – Hispaniola (in both Haiti and Dominican Republic).
  • A. s. venator Wetmore, 1914 – Puerto Rico.
  • A. s. chionogaster (Kaup, 1852) – White-breasted Hawk – highlands from S Mexico (SE Oaxaca, Chiapas) through Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to NW Nicaragua.
  • A. s. ventralis P. L. Sclater, 1866 – Plain-breasted Hawk – hills and mountains from N & SE Venezuela and Colombia through Ecuador and Peru to W Bolivia (Cochabamba).
  • A. s. erythronemius (Kaup, 1850) – Rufous-thighed Hawk – E Brazil (S from Bahia) to Uruguay, and SE Bolivia (Santa Cruz to Tarija) through Chaco of Paraguay to N Argentina (S to San Luis and Buenos Aires).
  • Descriptive notes

    23–35 cm; male 82–125 g, female 144–218 g (velox), male 94·9 g, female 171 g (venator), female 224–242 g (ventralis... read more


    Two main calls: single chip notes resembling those made by many passerines, and a series of sharp "... read more


    Wide variety of forested habitats, depending on region and subspecies, but usually with some... read more

    Food and feeding

    Highly specialized predator of birds, which typically constitute c. 90% of prey items. Most prey are passerines weighing < 40 g, but... read more


    In USA and Canada, usually the last accipiter to arrive on nesting grounds. Nest initiation likely timed to match availability of young... read more


    Race velox migratory, especially from taiga, moving S to wintering sites from mainland USA... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Race velox negatively affected by organochlorine chemicals in 1960s and 1970s. Tissue samples from E USA in early... read more

    Recommended citation

    White, C.M., Marks, J.S. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 24 February 2020).