Found in semi-open desert regions. Often among mesquite, saguaro, and organ pipe cactus. This fascinating raptor is one of the few social predators in the animal kingdom. They hunt in groups, from two to six for rabbits, squirrels, and birds. Utilizing strategic methods of flushing and ambushing prey. They also work as a group to defend large carrion from coyotes and other predators.
Not only do they hunt in groups, but they also nest in groups. As many as three adults feeding one nest. Nests are built high in mesquite trees, on man made structures or cliff sides. Laying 1-5 eggs per clutch.
North America’s smallest hawk species can be found in forested and occasionally urban areas. Their long tails and short wings help them maneuver through trees in pursuit of their main food source, small birds. The prey is usually caught on the wing and killed with talons. Then carried to a branch where the feathers are removed. Unlike owls who consume birds with feathers and bones, sharp-shinned hawks pluck all the feathers before dinning. They can be found occasionally at bird feeders showing up to catch feeding birds off guard. I’ve watched a sharp-shinned climb through a bush to get to the house sparrows hiding inside. They’re rather determined little raptors.
This was a fun painting to put together over the last couple evenings. I’ve been enjoying getting back to North America’s raptors in between all the water colors of raptors of the world. Thanks again for looking at birds with me.