A Very Tiny Hawk

Tiny hawk, female (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

15 February 2023

Only as big as a European starling, this accipiter native to Central and South America is aptly named the tiny hawk (Microspizias superciliosus).

Why is he so little? Because he eats the smallest birds.

Like all accipiters, the tiny hawk feeds primarily on birds. It hunts hummingbirds and small songbirds, by darting out from a place of concealment to snatch them as they pass by, but also ambushing them when the smaller birds are perched. There is some evidence that it learns the regular perches of some hummingbirds and hunts for them there. Some individuals also hunt rodents and bats.

Wikipedia: Tiny Hawk account

Interestingly his scientific species name, superciliosus, literally means “over and above the eyebrow” and is probably a description of the white line above his eye.

At first I misread the word as “supercilious” meaning arrogant or haughty. There’s a connection between the two words. Arrogant or haughty people sometimes raise one eyebrow to show their attitude toward others.

We didn’t see the tiny hawk during our Ecuador birding trip because we were in Mindo & the northwest highlands while he lives in the lowlands and foothills.

(photo from Wikimedia Commons; click on the caption to see the original)

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