|Not a juvenile--this is the size of the adult|
The second sharp-shinned I saw apparently hadn't read the same book, because it was sitting in a tree near my backyard bird feeder. The smaller birds had obviously noticed it before I had. Not a single well-fed junco or plump house finch was anywhere to be seen.
But a week or so later, there was an explosion of feathers outside the kitchen window as the sharpie nailed a pine siskin that was flying toward the feeder. The hawk began regularly returning to pick off my fatted songbirds, and I consulted other bird books.
One said that sharpies sometimes hunt at a number of neighborhood feeders, patrolling them like trap lines. This tendency to kill other birds earned the hawk the description of "murderous little villain" in Birds of America, published in 1936. It was "relentless," and "a little demon" that attacked in a "blind fury." The book explained that there were good birds and bad birds and that the sharp-shinned, along with its fellow accipiters the Cooper's hawk and the goshawk, "deserve destruction."
Some people today might still agree with Birds of America. It can be tough to see coddled songbirds turned into fast food for a marauding hawk. But I found my backyard sharpie so interesting I couldn't begrudge it the occasional junco.
Have you ever seen a sharpie? Ever had one patrol your feeder?