Look what visited our garden this weekend! You are looking at a female Sharp-Shinned hawk. They are the smallest hawks that fly into our yard this time of year.
Since we have a bird-feeding station, there are lot of birds flying around which attracts the attention of these hawks as well as Coopers' hawks and Goshawks. All of them eat birds and rodents.
While I love watching the little birds come to our feeders, I don't begrudge the hawks their meals because it's all a part of the balance of nature.
Sharp-Shinned hawks (Accipiter striatus) are about 11" in length and they have a wingspan of nearly 2 feet. They're very lightweight -- weighing a mere 5 oz. -- but very adept at chasing their prey in and around shrubs and trees in the garden. They have a very quick wingbeat. Their range is generally the northern United States, Canada and Alaska.
I believe this Sharp-Shinned hawk is an adult bird, based on the dark blue-gray color of its back and the top of its head.
So if you see a small hawk zipping around your garden, you can feel honored that they're paying you a visit!