Sharp-shinned Hawk Alert!

A SY (Second Year) Female Sharp-shinned Hawk captured yesterday at our banding station in Mackinaw City. Note the Orange-yellow eye. As Accipiter’s age their eyes change color. This can be attributed to be the amount of UV the eyes are exposed to over time. SSHA hawks as Juveniles have a Yellow-Grey eye which eventually transitions to a deep Ruby Red. This eye is mid transition as it is starting to turn orange.

A quick update for all of you who have been patiently waiting to hear where our foreign Sharp-shinned hawks (SSHA) were originally banded. First off, it should be mentioned that both of these SSHA’s were captured on the same day (April 5th) and only 9 minutes apart.

The first bird we caught, we aged to be an ASY (After-second year) meaning it is at least in its third year of life. This was determined by the uniform adult plumage found throughout the flight feathers and body. We were able to determine the sex of this bird to be a female. With all raptor species females are larger than males, and the in-hand differences are quite apparent for SSHA, while other species can show considerable overlap. For SSHA’s the average weight of a female is usually around 170g while males come in around 95 to 100g. Our first bird tipped the scales at 186g which is well into the female range.

Anyway, our first SSHA was originally banded at the Cedar Grove Raptor banding station in Sheboygan, WI on October 8th 2016 as a Juvenile. This means this bird is now in its 6th year of life! What is also cool is that the second SSHA we caught 9 minutes after the first was in her 7th year of life, what a coincidence! She was banded on May 5th 2016 as a SY (Second year) at Whitefish point in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The SY refers to her being in her second calendar year of life, even though this bird would have hatched in the Summer of 2015, and at her time of capture still would have been in her juvenile plumage.

It’s safe to say that having two birds back-to-back that were 6 and 7 years old was pretty unique. Stay tuned for more updates on our continued Raptor banding and for updates of our GPS tagged Red-tails.

2021 Spring Season Totals

23 + 2(foreign) Sharp-shinned Hawks

1 Merlin

3 Northern Harriers

2 Coopers Hawks

1 Red-shouldered Hawk

57 Red-tailed Hawks

Season Total: 87 New 2 Foreign

Grand total = 89

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