Congratulations to Craig Hunt for winning the January 2022 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist! Craig’s photo of a sharp-eyed Sharp-shinned Hawk received the most faves of any iNaturalist observation in Vermont during the past month.
Not only is this an exceptional photo-series of a handsome bird, but it also happens to be Craig’s 4,100th iNaturalist observation! The Sharp-shinned Hawk, a bird-seeking missile often known simply as “Sharpie,” is a frequent visitor to backyard bird feeders, which of course can double as hawk-feeders in true circle-of-life fashion. While its larger counterpart, the Cooper’s Hawk, is generally more common in urban and suburban habitats in the winter, Sharp-shinned Hawks regularly overwinter in Vermont and can make for some tricky identification challenges. Craig’s photos show off some of the features to look for when trying to differentiate these very similar species: the skinny legs, slim body shape, large eye with yellow orbital ring, and rounded head with a dark, hooded appearance all point towards an ID of Sharp-shinned Hawk. To see some great side-by-side photos and videos of these similar species and to learn more about how to tell them apart, click here.
Visit the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist where you can vote for the winner this month by clicking the ‘fave’ star on your favorite photo-observation. Make sure you get outdoors and record the biodiversity around you, then submit your discoveries and you could be a winner!