Sharp-shinned hawk
Accipiter striatus
ITIS Species Code:   175304         NatureServ Element Code:   ABNKC12020
NatureServe Global Rank: 
NatureServe State (NC) Rank: 
Federal Status: 
NC State Status: 
Southern Blue Ridge:  15 Southern Piedmont:  16 South Atl. Coastal Plain:  16
Land Unit

US Fish & Wildlife Service
US Forest Service
US National Park Service
US Department of Defense
NC State Parks
NC University System
NC Wildlife Res. Com.
NC Forest Service
NC Div. of Coastal Mgmt.
Local Governments
Non-Governmental Org.
Other Public Lands
Private Lands

GAP Status 1-2
All Protected Lands




% of Dist. on
Prot. Lands

0.5 %
56.6 %
8.2 %
17.0 %
4.5 %
0.2 %
8.9 %
1.0 %
0.0 %
1.3 %
1.3 %
0.2 %
0.0 %

33.0 %
% of Dist. on
All Lands

< 0.1 %
6.0 %
0.9 %
1.8 %
0.5 %
< 0.1 %
1.0 %
0.1 %
0.0 %
0.2 %
0.2 %
< 0.1 %
89.3 %

3.5 %

Forest and open woodland, coniferous, mixed, or deciduous, primarily in coniferous in more northern and mountainous portion of range (AOU 1983). Primary habitat is boreal forest, with the greatest nesting densities occurring in eastern Canada. Young, dense, mixed or coniferous woodlands are preferred for nesting (Platt 1976, Reynolds et al. 1982, Meyer 1987). Where conifers are scarce, as in the prairie regions, cottonwoods, poplars, and other members of the Betulaceae may be used (Bent 1937). Migrates through various habitats, mainly along ridges, lakeshores, and coastlines (NGS 1983). Nests usually in tree crotch or on branch next to trunk, most often 3-18 m up, hidden by thick foliage, usually in conifer in north. May build new nest, reuse old one, or modify old bird or squirrel nest. Nests generally seem to be in a stand of dense conifers near a forest opening, though this may reflect observer bias (Meyer 1987). Pairs apparently remain faithful to nesting areas for several years, although a new nest is usually constructed each season. However, this may not be universally true (Herron et al. 1985, stated that pairs are not faithful to a nest site).

In Nevada, nesting occurs at elevations of 6500-9000 feet, intermediate between Cooper's below, and goshawks above (Herron et al. 1985).

One study quantified habitat parameters for nest sites in pine plantations in Missouri (Wiggers and Kritz 1991). The nest sites were characterized as medium age (25-49 yr), with high tree density (1370 trees/ha), basal area (37 sq m per ha), and percentage canopy coverage (82%). Nest trees were usually of normal growth form and nests were in the canopy. In this study, Cooper's hawks also nested in the same type of habitat, with essentially the same characteristics, but chose deformed nest trees most often and placed nests below canopy. Sharp-shin nesting sites were in stands averaging 11.8 ha compared to an average of 4.1 ha for Cooper's hawks in pine stands or 53 ha for Cooper's in hardwood habitat (Wiggers and Kritz 1991).

The foraging habitat during the breeding season is essentially the same as that chosen for nesting, and the birds appear to avoid open, deciduous forests, at least in Canada (Meyer 1987). During the winter, however, the males tend to hunt most frequently along hedgerows, field edges and other ecotonal habitats, while females usually stick to extensive stands of forest or riparian areas (Meyer 1987).

Occupied Landcover Map Units:
Code NameDescription NC Natural Heritage Program Equivalent
67 Wet Longleaf or Slash Pine Savanna Wet flatwoods and pine savannas, typically dominated by longleaf pines, but slash or pond pines may be the dominant pines. Wet Pine Flatwoods
97 Mesic Longleaf Pine Longleaf pine woodlands without a major scrub oak component. Slash or loblolly pines may be present as well. Mesic Pine Flatwoods
42 Xeric Longleaf Pine Sandhills including a range of longleaf pine density from predominantly wiregrass, scrub oak dominated to true longleaf pine woodland. This does not include mesic or saturated flatwood types. Xeric Sandhill Scrub, Pine/Scrub Oak Sandhill, Coastal Fringe Sandhill
46 Xeric Oak - Pine Forests Mixed forest dominated by yellow pines with white or northern red oaks co-dominating. Pine Oak Heath
232 Xeric Pine-Hardwood Woodlands and Forests Mixed forest dominated by yellow pines with drier oaks including southern red, post, and chestnut oaks. Dry Oak Hickory Forest
230 Piedmont Mesic Forest American Beech - Red Oak - White Oak Forests. Mesic Mixed Hardwood
384 Piedmont/Mountain Mixed Bottomland Hardwood Forests Includes temporarily to seasonally forests dominated by hardwood species. Hardwoods include sweetgum, red maple, sycamore which co-occur in a mosaic of bottomland and levee positions. Includes alluvial hardwood forests in the mountains. Hemlock and white pine may occur as inclusions, but are generally mapped separately. Piedmont/Mountain Alluvial Forest, Piedmont/Mountain Levee Forest
383 Piedmont Mixed Successional Forest Generally loblolly mixed with successional hardwoods. Sweetgum, tulip poplar and red maple are common co-dominants in these successional forests. No equivalent
228 Piedmont Dry-Mesic Oak and Hardwood Forests Primarily oak dominated forests, white oak is often dominant, with co-dominants including . Also represented by sweetgum and tulip poplar dominated forests. Dry Mesic Oak Hickory Forest, Basic Oak Hickory Forest, Dry Oak Hickory Forest
222 Piedmont Dry-Mesic Pine Forests Loblolly dominated forests resulting from succession following clearing. This type occurs on all moisture regimes following disturbance with the exception of the extremely xeric sites. No equivalent
382 Dry Mesic Oak Pine Forests Mixed forests of the coastal plain and piedmont. Includes loblolly pine with white, southern red and/or post oak and loblolly with water oak. On basic sites of the piedmont, eastern red cedar may co-occur with post, black, and blackjack oaks. Dry Mesic Oak Hickory Forest, Xeric Hard Pan Forest, Chestnut Oak Forest, Dry Mesic Oak Hickory Forest, Dry Oak Hickory Forest
220 Piedmont Xeric Pine Forests Dry to xeric pine forests dominated by Virginia pine, shortleaf pine or Eastern Red Cedar. Pine Oak Heath
226 Piedmont Xeric Woodlands Generally post and blackjack oak dominated woodlands. White ash and pignut hickory can be found in combination with Eastern red cedar on glades. Xeric Hardpan Forest
20 Coniferous Regeneration Regenerating pine stands. Predominantly loblolly pine, but slash and longleaf stands occur as well. No equivalent
21 Coniferous Cultivated Plantation (natural / planted) Managed pine plantations, densely planted. Most planted stands are loblolly, but slash and longleaf occur as well. No equivalent
51 Deciduous Cultivated Plantation Planted deciduous trees. Includes sweetgum and sycamore plantations. No equivalent
36 Successional Deciduous Forests Regenerating deciduous trees with a shrub stature. Commonly dominated by sweetgum, tulip poplars and maples. No equivalent
180 Agricultural Crop Fields Farm fields used for row crops. No equivalent
205 Agricultural Pasture/Hay and Natural Herbaceous Farm fields used for pasture grass or hay production, as well as old fields dominated by native and exotic grasses. No equivalent
202 Residential Urban Includes vegetation interspersed in residential areas. Includes lawns, mixed species woodlots, and horticultural shrubs. Vegetation accounts for between 20 - 70% of the cover. No equivalent
517 Hemlock Floodplain Forest Alluvial forest with hemlock and/or white pine in mountains and western piedmont. Hydrology is generally temporarily to seasonally flooded. Canada Hemlock Forest
521 Spruce/Fir Forest High Elevation Frazer-Fir - Red Spruce, Red Spruce and Red-Spruce-Yellow Birch Forests. Tree densities included here include both woodland to forest density. Highly intermixed with Northern Hardwoods, Grassy Balds, and Shrub Balds. Red Spruce--Fraser Fir Forest, Fraser Fir Forest
522 Northern Hardwoods High Elevation forests including yellow birch, American beech, and yellow buckeye. Includes forests with Hemlock and Yellow Birch. Northern Hardwoods Forest, Boulderfield Forest
523 Grassy Bald High Elevation grassy balds including Pennsylvania sedge, mountain oatgrass, as well as shrubby areas dominated by Alleghany and smooth blackberry. Grassy Bald
524 Shrub Bald Variable phenologies, predominantly evergreen balds with rhododendon and Mountain laurels. Deciduous shrubs including green alder and Alleghany and smooth blackberry are included as well. Red Oak - Chestnut Oak Woodlands may be included in cases where the density of the woodland species is low and the shrub component is dense. Heath Bald
525 Appalachian Oak Forest A variety of oak forest types including Black, White, Scarlet Oaks in dry to mesic situations. Includes forests historically co-dominated by American Chestnut. High Elevation Red Oak Forest, Montane White Oak Forest
526 Appalachian Cove Forest Mixed Mesophytic forests of the mountains. Includes tuliptree, basswood, yellow buckeye and surgar maple. This class is mapped to include cove forests dominated or co-dominated by hemlock. Rich Cove Forest, Acidic Cove Forest
527 Appalachian Hemlock Upland hemlock forests of the moutains region. Vary from side slopes to steep slope positions. Canada Hemlock Forest
528 Appalachian Xeric Pine Forest Pine forests and woodlands on xeric sites. A variety of pines, including Virginia, Shortleaf, Eastern White Pine, Table Mountain and Pitch pine. Often small areas of dense pine within a matrix of Xeric Oak-Pine Forests. Pine Oak Heath
529 Appalachian Xeric Mixed Forest Mixed forests with Virginia, Shortleaf, Eastern White Pine, Table Mountain and Pitch pines in combination with xeric oak species. Oaks include, white, Southern Red, black, and rock chestnut. Pine Oak Heath
530 Appalachian Xeric Deciduous Forest Deciduous forests in the mountains dominated by Xeric Oak species. Species include, white, Southern red, black, and rock chestnut. High Elevation Red Oak Forest, Montane White Oak Forest
533 Appalachian Swamp Forest Evergreen and deciduous forests with saturated hydrologies. This class may contain a variety of trees species, including hemlock - red maple, pitch pine, and white pine forests. Swamp Forest-Bog Complex, Southern Appalachian Bog, Southern Appalachian Fen
534 Appalachian Wet Shrubland/ Herbaceous Saturated shrubs and herbaceous vegetation. Often mapped as an inclusion in Appalachian Swamp Forest. Southern Appalachian Bog, Southern Appalachian Fen
535 Talus/Outcrops/Cliffs Includes seep talus slopes with sparce vegetation, as well as outcrops including, granitic outcrops. Some outcrops will have been mapped as barren rock. No equivalent
View Entire Landcover Legend
Additional Spatial Constraints:
Exclude all area outside of known range.
Reynolds, R. T., E. C. Meslow, and H. M. Wight. 1982. Nesting habits of coexisting Accipiter in Oregon. Journal of Wildlife Management 46:124-31.

Titus, K., and M. R. Fuller. 1990. Recent trends in counts of migrant hawks from northeastern North America. Journal of Wildlife Management 54:463-470.

Kirk, D.A., D. Hussell, and E. Dunn. 1994/95. Raptor population status and trends in Canada. Bird Trends (Canadian Wildlife Service) 4:2-9.

Bent, A.C. 1937. Life histories of North American birds of prey. Part 1. Bull. U.S. Natl. Mus. 137. 409 pp.

Ehrlich, P.R., D.S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1992. Birds in jeopardy:the imperiled and extinct birds of the United States and Canada, including Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California. 259 pp.

Fisher, A.K. 1893. The hawks and owls of the United States in their relation to agriculture. Washington U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Bull. no. 6. 210 pp.

Peterjohn, B.G., J.R. Sauer, and W.A. Link. 1994. The 1992 and 1993 summary of the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Bird Populations 2:46-61.

Herron, G. B., C. A. Mortimore, and M. S. Rawlings. 1985. Nevada raptors:their biology and management. Nevada Dept. of Wildlife. Biological Bulletin No. 8.

International Council for Bird Preservation. Red Data Book.

Terres, J.K. 1980. The Audubon Society encyclopedia of North American birds. Alfred A. Knopf, New York.

Evans, D. L. 1982. Status reports on twelve raptors. U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Special Scientific Report No. 238. 68 pp.

Wiley, J. W. 1985. Bird conservation in the United States Caribbean. Pages 107-159 in Temple, S. A., editor. Bird conservation 2. Univ. Wisconsin Press, Madison. 181 pp.

American Ornithologists' Union (AOU), Committee on Classification and Nomenclature. 1983. Check-list of North American Birds. Sixth Edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Allen Press, Inc., Lawrence, Kansas.

National Geographic Society (NGS). 1983. Field guide to the birds of North America. National Geographic Society, Washington, D.C.

National Geographic Society (NGS). 1983. Field guide to the birds of North America. National Geographic Society, Washington, DC.

Raffaele, H.A. 1983. A guide to the birds of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Fondo Educativo Interamericano, San Juan, Puerto Rico. 255 pp.

Hilty, S.L., and W.L. Brown. 1986. A guide to the birds of Colombia. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey. 836 pp.

Pendleton, B. A. Giron, et al. 1987. Raptor management techniques manual. National Wildlife Federation, Sci. and Tech. Ser. No. 10. 420 pp.

Palmer, R. S., editor. 1988. Handbook of North American birds. Vol. 4. [Diurnal raptors, part 1]. Yale University Press, New Haven. vii + 433 pp.

Stiles, F.G., and A.F. Skutch. 1989. A guide to the birds of Costa Rica. Comstock Publ. Associates, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York. 511 pp.

Johnsgard, P.A. 1990. Hawks, eagles, and falcons of North America. Smithsonian Inst. Press, Washington, D.C. xvi + 403 pp.

Sibley, C.G., and B.L. Monroe. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut. xxiv + 1111 pp.

Delannoy, C. A., and A. Cruz. 1988. Breeding biology of the Puerto Rican sharp-shinned hawk (ACCIPITER STRIATUS VENATOR). Auk 105:649-662.

Wiggers, E. P., and K. J. Kritz. 1991. Comparison of nexting habitat of coexisting sharp-shinned and Cooper's hawks in Missouri. Wilson Bull. 103:568-577.

10 March 2005
This data was compiled and/or developed by the North Carolina GAP Analysis Project.

For more information please contact them at:
NC-GAP Analysis Project
Dept. of Zoology, NCSU
Campus Box 7617
Raleigh, NC 27695-7617
(919) 513-2853