A Sopping Wet Sharp-shinned Hawk In Toronto


A Sopping Wet Sharp-shinned Hawk In Toronto

Sharp Shinned Hawk stares straight ahead

One spring, in our local Toronto park, in Ontario, a Sharp-shinned hawk (Accipiter striatus) was taking issue with the weather even as a gentle mist continued to settle on the land.  The hawk had taken refuge in the top of a local century old maple tree.

Wet Sharp Shinned Hawk sits in tree

This sharp-shinned hawk looked pretty waterlogged, and to make matters worse, a small flock of chickadees, and even a cardinal, kept flying in and around the hawk’s perch, more or less taunting him as he remained flight bound because of his drenched plumage.

Sharp shinned holds on with one claw

It is hard to believe that this pile of feathers is the backside of a Sharp-shinned hawk!  He was vainly attempting to dry off his wing and tail feathers, and as we watched, he repeatedly lifted his wings, spread his tail and generally kept shaking off the moisture.

Rain drops on a limb

With the continuing drizzle, everything was dripping wet.

Sharp Shinned Hawk with wet feathers

We have seen many a Cormorant standing on rocky islands or perched in trees where they hold out their wings to dry them, but never before a sharp-shinned hawk like this one.

Wet Tail feathers of Sharp Shinned Hawk

I have read that a soggy hawk just like a Cormorant cannot fly with wet wings,  so we were very careful not to get too close to this hawk and distract him from the task at hand.  We worried that the hawk might hurt itself if it decided to fly before being sufficiently dried out.

Sharp Shinned Hawk holds right wing out to dry

It was supposed to clear later that day in Toronto, with the possibility of a little sunshine, I suspect this hawk was very pleased when the sun came out.

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Frame To Frame –  Bob and Jean


  • thank you for that beautiful story. I will assume the hawk dried and and got it’s wings back:)

    • We are pretty sure that the hawk has survived the winter. It has visited our own backyard a couple of times more recently, both of which were during major snowstorms. Guess the pickings at our bird feeders are too tempting to resist.

  • Thank you for caring so much for this beautiful Sharp-shinned Hawk.

    I hope that the sun comes out soon to help dry out the feathers, to enable freedom flying for the hawk once again!

    • We are pleased to report that the Sharp-shinned Hawk has survived thus far this winter. Only last week, it sat on our deck railing while contemplating its next move. It won’t be much longer now before potential prey is more readily available.