The neighborhood crows were having a fit this afternoon and, by the intensity and persistence of their calls, I knew they had cornered a hawk or owl. Sure enough, a sharp-shinned hawk was perched on a limb of our large walnut tree, a songbird in its talons. The crow patrol had settled in surrounding trees, scolding the enemy from all directions.
Sharp-shins are members of the accipiter family. Equipped with short, powerful wings and a long tail, they cruise through open woodlands, hunting for songbirds. They are fairly common in Missouri throughout the colder months and often turn up in residential areas, where backyard feeders concentrate their prey.