Sheldon – Harris’s Hawk
Hatched: April 2005
Sheldon is a member of the education department. He was hatched at the World Bird Sanctuary’s breeding facility in Valley Park, MO. His parents are Old Man and Phoenix. Sheldon was named by one of our longtime volunteers, who purchased the naming rights at the World Bird Sanctuary’s bi-annual fundraiser, “Fete du Feather”.
Sheldon was placed with our education staff for training at a very young age, so that he would become totally comfortable around the variety of situations encountered in our varied education program presentations. Because of this early training he has complete trust in his human coworkers. Even though Sheldon is tiny for his species, he is fearless. His very first show was at the Topeka Zoo, where he encountered giraffes and other large animals. He took these huge creatures in stride and performed like a seasoned trooper.
Sheldon has proved to be an unbelievably quick learner. Because of his careful early training he is a wonderful and incredibly reliable performer who astounds even our seasoned staff members with his consistency.
Species: Harris’s Hawk
Latin Name: Parabuteo unicinctus
Description: relatively small heavy-set raptor; generally blackish or sooty brown with shoulders, thighs, and underwing coverts a chestnut color; upper and undertail coverts, as well as a one-inch band at the tip of the tail are white; eyes are dark brown; eyelids, cere, and legs are yellow; immature birds vaguely streaked with white on breast and abdomen and thighs are barred with white; their upper parts are more or less edged with a rufous color, and outer tail feathers are barred
Sex: both sexes identical in coloration and markings; males smaller than females
Age: 10-15 years
Weight: 1-2 lbs.
Habitat: sparse woodlands or semi-desert regions
Status: endangered in New Mexico, Arizona and Southern California due to human encroachment and habitat destruction
Range: lowland areas from the southwestern border of the U.S., south to southern Chile, central Argentina, and Paraguay; found east into Venezuela and the interior of Brazil, and south to Santa Catharina
Behavior: 2-4 white eggs, sparsely spotted with brown or lavender, are laid in a nest, usually less than 30 feet above the ground; incubation is about 28 days; young leave the nest at about 3-1/2 weeks of age; will stay close to the nest for another 3-4 months
Diet: small mammals, such as rats and rabbits, as well as birds, reptiles and even insects
Vocalization: generally silent, but will utter a long harsh scream when the nest is approached
- Very family oriented, often hunting in groups; young from the previous year help the parents raise the next clutch
- Known for a behavior called “stacking”, one bird will perch on the top of a cactus, and as other family members approach, they will ball up their feet and land on the shoulders of the perched bird; as many as 4 birds will stand on their backs