Birds Of Prey In Arizona with Pictures

Picture soaring through the sky with wings wide open and eyes keenly focused, hunting for food and protecting its home. This is the life of a bird of prey in Arizona. These majestic creatures have captivated generations of people as they soar high above our heads, and their presence has become an integral part of the southwestern landscape. In this article, we will explore these birds’ fascinating lives in the Grand Canyon State, from where to find them to how humans can help protect their populations.

Arizona is an ideal habitat for many species of raptors due to its diverse terrain, ranging from deserts to mountains. From hawks to falcons, owls to vultures – there are around 30 different types of predatory birds calling Arizona home. Each species brings something unique to the state’s avian population: some hunt on foot while others swoop down from trees or cliffs; some prefer smaller animals like rodents while others go after large game such as deer; and each one plays an important role in keeping the environment healthy by controlling pests and maintaining balance within the ecosystem.

With human activity continuing to encroach on natural habitats across Arizona, it’s more important than ever that we work together to conserve these beautiful birds before it’s too late. In order to do so, we must first understand exactly what makes these predators so remarkable – which is why this article aims to give readers a closer look into the world of birds of prey in Arizona!

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle

Bald eagles are majestic birds of prey that have been an Arizona resident since the 1940s. In recent years, their numbers have grown steadily due to conservation efforts and they can now be found in all 15 counties within the state. The bald eagle is a large bird with streaky brown plumage and bright yellow eyes. Its diet consists largely of fish but it also feeds on small mammals like rabbits and rodents, as well as other smaller birds. They typically make their nests high up in tall trees near water sources or along riversides, where there’s plenty of food to hunt for.

Bald Eagle range map

Great horned owls and red-tailed hawks may compete for nesting sites with bald eagles, although this rarely results in any serious conflict between the species.

Great Horned Owl
Great horned owl
Red-tailed Hawk
Red-tailed hawk

Bald eagles remain one of the most impressive birds of prey in Arizona, often seen soaring through the sky or perched atop treetops looking out for potential meals below them. Their presence serves a reminder of our responsibility to protect wildlife and its natural habitats from destruction.

Red Tailed Hawks

Red-tailed Hawk1
Red Tailed Hawk

Moving on from the majestic Bald Eagle, let’s take a look at another type of raptor found in Arizona: Red Tailed Hawks. These large hawks are very common in North America and can be seen soaring across Arizona skies. They have reddish-brown tails that distinguish them from other species of hawk; however, there is some variation in coloration between individuals.

Red tailed hawks are powerful hunters with sharp eyesight. When hunting, they prefer to stay high above their prey and swoop down when it’s time to attack. They mainly eat small mammals such as mice or rabbits but also consume birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects.

Red-tailed Hawk range map

Red tailed hawks come in two subspecies – the red-shafted and the western (also known as “Krider’s”) – which differ slightly in size and plumage coloration. In addition to these two types of red-tailed hawks, there are several other species of hawks that inhabit Arizona including Cooper’s Hawks, Sharp Shinned Hawks, and Ferruginous Hawks.

Arizona has an abundance of raptors due to its diverse habitats ranging from deserts to forests. All these different species play an important role in maintaining balance within ecosystems by controlling rodent populations and keeping bird numbers regulated. The presence of raptors like red tailed hawks signifies a healthy environment where all wildlife can thrive.

Cooper’s Hawk

Cooper's Hawk
Cooper’s Hawk

The Cooper’s Hawk is a medium-sized species of hawk found in the state of Arizona. It has dark brown upperparts and pale yellowish underparts, with red eyes and heavy streaking on its breast. This powerful predator feeds mainly on small mammals such as ground squirrels and other rodents, but will also take birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and even fish occasionally. Its diet varies according to season and location.

Cooper’s HawkMedium-sized species of hawk with dark brown upperparts & pale yellowish underparts
Sharp Shinned HawkSmaller than Cooper’s; slate gray back & barred tail; rusty color underneath body parts
Ground SquirrelsCommon prey item for Hawks; often found near open fields or grasslands
Cooper's Hawk range map

It breeds throughout most of North America during the spring months using tree cavities or abandoned nests from other birds for nesting sites. The female usually lays 3–4 eggs which she incubates until they hatch approximately four weeks later. Meanwhile the male brings food to the nest site for her and their young chicks during this period. After fledging at around eight weeks old, juveniles disperse widely to find suitable habitat where they can establish territories of their own.

This concludes our discussion about Cooper’s Hawk – next we’ll look into another common hawk species found in Arizona: Sharp Shinned Hawk.

Sharp Shinned Hawk

Sharp-shinned Hawk
Sharp Shinned Hawk

The Sharp Shinned Hawk is a small and powerful raptor found in Arizona. With its distinctive yellow eyes, thin legs, and sharp beak it is easily recognizable to birdwatchers. It has adapted to living in the canyons of Arizona as well as more open areas with trees nearby such as suburban parks or woodlands near agricultural fields. The scientific name for this hawk is Accipiter striatus; however, it’s often referred to by its common name “Sharpie.”

Sharp-shinned Hawk range map

This hawks diet consists mainly of smaller birds like American Kestrels which are also found in Arizona. They have been seen attacking flocks of migrating warblers on their way south during the winter months. Its hunting strategy involves perching at the top of a tall tree or rocky outcrop where it will wait until prey passes below before swooping down for a surprise attack from above. This type of ambush tactic allows them to make use of their speed and agility when capturing their prey quickly.

These raptors have had an increasingly difficult time finding suitable habitat due to human encroachment on wild areas and increasing urbanization over the years. Despite this they continue to thrive throughout much of the state thanks to protection provided by conservation efforts, making them one of Arizona’s most beloved avian species. As we move forward into an uncertain future, these magnificent birds will remain an important part of our natural heritage here in Arizona.

Gray Hawk

Gray Hawk
Gray Hawk

The Gray Hawk is a commonly seen bird of prey in Arizona. It’s easily identified by its slate-gray coloration, with light barring on the wings, upper chest and tail. They can be found perched atop tall trees or poles, scanning for their next meal. Here are 4 interesting facts about the Gray Hawk:

  1. They prefer to hunt from high perches, rather than active pursuit like the Harris’s hawk does;
  2. Gray hawks primarily eat insects, lizards and small birds;
  3. Their mating season lasts from February to April; and
  4. Males and females look similar but males tend to have brighter colors and longer tails.
Gray Hawk range map

These raptors are also quite vocal during breeding season as they call out for mates using loud whistles which echo throughout the desert landscape. All in all, Gray hawks make an impressive sight when seen soaring gracefully above our skies here in Arizona! Now let’s take a closer look at another species – the Northern Goshawk.

Northern Goshawk

Northern Goshawk
Northern Goshawk

The Northern Goshawk is a common sight in Arizona, particularly as it soars the skies with its formidable wingspan. Like many birds of prey, the northern goshawk has earned itself quite a reputation for being fierce and powerful hunters – and rightly so. The scientific name for this species is Accipiter gentilis; they are primarily found in forests or wooded areas. They feed on small mammals like hares and rabbits, as well as other small birds such as jays and quail.

Northern Goshawk range map

Northern goshawks also have an impressive visual display when courting: males dive at speeds up to 160 mph before pulling up right next to their mate! This dangerous manoeuvre shows off not only their strength but also how skilled they are at flying. As one could imagine, these behaviours make them excellent predators who can easily outwit most animals smaller than them. With that said, their population numbers remain stable enough that they continue to be seen throughout Arizona’s landscape today.

Harris’s Hawk

Harris's Hawk
Harris’s Hawk

After the Northern Goshawk, another raptor of interest in Arizona is the Harris’s Hawk. This species is easily distinguished by its unique plumage and scientific name Parabuteo unicinctus. It is a medium-sized hawk that inhabits much of southwestern North America and parts of South America. Its scientific name comes from Greek origins meaning “like a buzzard with one girdle” which refers to their distinctive reddish-brown coloration around the chest area.

Harris’s Hawks are incredibly social birds with groups sometimes consisting of up to seven members. They often hunt cooperatively, flying together in pursuit of prey or taking turns perching for sentry duty while others search for food nearby. While they have been known to feed on small mammals, reptiles, and even other birds, Harris’s hawks prefer hunting ground squirrels or rabbits when available. In addition to being found in open savannas and scrublands throughout Arizona, these majestic birds can also be seen soaring overhead at higher elevations such as near Flagstaff or Sedona during migration times.

Harris's Hawk range map

The transition between this section and the next will discuss how the northern harrier differs not only in appearance but also in behavior compared to both the Harris’s hawk and the northern goshawk discussed previously.

Northern Harrier

Northern Harrier
Northern Harrier

The Northern Harrier is a beautiful hawk that inhabits the state of Arizona. It has various distinctive features, such as its long wingspan and streaked chest feathers. The bird can be found in open fields, wet meadows, marshes and other grasslands throughout the Grand Canyon State. This species can also be seen flying along coastal areas looking for food or nesting sites.

Northern Harrier range map

In addition to the Northern Harrier, Swainson’s Hawk and Barn Owl are other birds of prey in Arizona.

Swainson’s Hawk prefers semi-open habitats like deserts, agricultural lands and urban parks while Barn Owls prefer more wooded regions around Arizona where they can hunt rodents and small reptiles.

Swainson's Hawk
Swainson’s Hawk
Barn Owl
Barn Owl

All three types of raptors share similar diets consisting mainly of voles, mice, rabbits, snakes and lizards but their hunting strategies vary greatly depending on the area they inhabit. Each bird must adapt to different environments in order to survive which makes them all unique predators within the state of Arizona. Understanding how these birds interact with their environment is key to preserving them for future generations. As we move into discussing Ferruginous Hawks next, it’s important to consider how each species contributes differently to our ecosystem.

Ferruginous Hawk

Ferruginous Hawk
Ferruginous Hawk

If you’re looking for a bird of prey that could be mistaken for an eagle, the Ferruginous Hawk is your avian! This majestic raptor has been known to soar through Arizona’s skies with its large wingspan and light-colored plumage. But don’t let this beauty fool you – it can also cause quite a bit of damage when hunting small mammals or other birds.

SpeciesScientific Name
Ferruginous HawkButeo regalis
Burrowing OwlsAthene cunicularia
Ferruginous Hawk range map

In terms of habitat, these hawks prefer wide open spaces like deserts, prairies, grasslands, meadows and agricultural fields. They are especially fond of areas where they can easily hunt small rodents such as mice and voles. In addition, they will sometimes nest in old tree stumps or cavities made by woodpeckers. However, burrowing owls often compete with them for sites to make their homes.

The diet of a ferruginous hawk consists mainly of small mammals but they will occasionally eat reptiles, amphibians and insects as well. As fierce predators with sharp talons and powerful beaks, these birds have no problem killing larger animals than themselves if need be. With all these facts about ferruginous hawks being said, one thing remains clear – pay attention next time you spot an unfamiliar bird soaring across the sky – it might just be a ferruginous hawk!

Common Black Hawk

Common Black Hawk
Common Black Hawk

Another raptor species to be found in Arizona is the Common Black Hawk. This hawk inhabits a variety of habitats and can often be seen soaring through desert sky, searching for prey with its sharp eyesight. It has a wingspan between three and four feet, making it slightly smaller than the Ferruginous Hawk. Some features that distinguish this bird from other hawks are:

  • Its black feathers on its head, neck and chest
  • Large areas of white feathers near the base of its tail
  • A characteristic “kink” at each end of its long tail
Common Black Hawk range map

These birds feed mainly on small rodents or reptiles, but they also sometimes hunt larger animals such as rabbits or young deer. They build bulky nests made out of sticks and line them with grasses and leaves. In addition to the Common Black Hawk, two other types of hawks reside in Arizona – Broad Winged Hawks and Zone Tailed Hawks. Both have similar habits to their common cousin, though they differ in size and appearance. The Broad Winged Hawk has noticeably shorter tails than most others hawks while the Zone Tailed Hawk shares many physical characteristics with vultures due to its dark plumage and short hooked bill. These raptors live primarily along mountain ridgelines where there’s an abundance of food sources and open space for hunting.

To sum up, although all three kinds of these hawks share some similarities, they also possess distinct traits which make them unique among other avian species native to Arizona’s diverse environment.

Broad Winged Hawk

Broad-winged Hawk
Broad Winged Hawk

The Broad Winged Hawk is a majestic bird that commands attention when it soars through the skies of Arizona. With wings outstretched, and its brown chest heaving with each breath, this magnificent creature stands apart from other birds of prey in the state. As one of the smaller species of hawks native to Arizona, they are often seen alongside larger raptors like Peregrine Falcons and Golden Eagles.

Broad-winged Hawk range map

Though their size may not be as intimidating as some of their counterparts, these diminutive predators still make an impact on their environment, feeding primarily on small reptiles such as lizards and snakes. The Broad Winged Hawk has adapted to life in the arid desert climate by being opportunistic hunters; nesting near water sources for easy access to food and using thermals created by heat rising off the land. This adaptive behavior allows them to survive even in extreme conditions.

This hawk’s impressive resilience makes it well-suited for navigating the wilds of Arizona where temperatures can soar above 100 degrees Fahrenheit during much of the year. As this powerful predator navigates its home range across the southwestern United States, it’s hard to miss their iconic silhouette soaring against the backdrop of a bright blue sky. Transitioning now into discussing zone tailed hawks we can see another example of how avian adaptation helps creatures thrive in unique habitats around our great nation.

Zone Tailed Hawk

Zone-tailed Hawk
Zone Tailed Hawk

The Zone Tailed Hawk is the next bird of prey in Arizona. This species has a distinctive black and white barred tail, with the rest of its body being dark brown or greyish-brown coloration. It also features an unmarked chest and collar that distinguishes it from other hawks. These birds are most active during the day, when they can be seen soaring through the sky looking for food. They often feed on small mammals like rodents, but will also take smaller birds at bird feeders if given the opportunity.

Zone tailed Hawks are usually found near streams or rivers where there is ample cover from trees and shrubs. Although they can sometimes be confused with turkey vultures due to their similar appearance, they lack any red head feathers which makes them easily distinguishable from one another. Furthermore, these hawks tend to soar much more gracefully than turkey vultures do. As such, you can easily tell them apart by observing how they fly above your backyard! With this knowledge in mind, anyone who spots a zone tailed hawk should consider themselves lucky as not many people get to witness these majestic creatures up close! Transitioning into the subsequent section about Swainson’s Hawks: Another iconic bird of prey in Arizona is the Swainson’s Hawk – let’s take a closer look at this species now!

Swainson’s Hawk

Swainson's Hawk
Swainson’s Hawk

Swainson’s Hawk, also known as Swainson’s Buzzard, is a species of hawk native to Arizona. It can be identified by its brown and white feather pattern and has large yellow eyes with a black stripe across them. The scientific name for this bird is Buteo swainsoni which comes from the Latin word ‘buteo’ meaning hawk or buzzard. Its diet consists mainly of small mammals, reptiles and insects which it hunts from high in the sky using its excellent vision and agility.

Swainson's Hawk range map

The breeding season for Swainson’s Hawks usually begins in March and lasts until June, during which time they will build their nests on tall trees or telephone poles near open fields that provide plenty of food sources. They prefer to nest close to water sources such as rivers or streams since these areas are more likely to have larger populations of prey animals. During the nesting period both parents take part in feeding young birds until they become independent enough to feed themselves around 3-4 weeks post hatching.

Rough Legged Hawk

Rough-legged Hawk
Rough Legged Hawk

“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” This proverb rings true for Arizona’s Rough Legged Hawk, a raptor of impressive beauty and power. The Rough Legged Hawk is easily distinguished from other birds of prey due to its unique coloring and call.

Rough-legged Hawk range map
Scientific NameCommon Name
Buteo lagopusRough Legged Hawk
Buteo jamaicensisRed Tailed Hawk

The Rough Legged hawk has a scientific name of Buteo lagopus which translates to “hare-footed” or “foot like an hare” typically referring to their feathered legs that are covered all the way down to their toes. Meanwhile, red tailed hawks have a scientific name of Buteo jamaicensis which means “of Jamaica”. Red tailed hawks can be found throughout much of North America but aren’t as prevalent as rough legged hawks in Arizona. They prefer open fields, deserts and grasslands where sustenance can be more easily obtained than densely wooded areas.

Not only do these birds differ visually; they also feed on different types of prey species such as rodents and insects when compared with larger game hunted by red tailed hawks such as rabbits, squirrels, snakes, small mammals etc. Due to this difference in diet these hawks occupy different parts of the sky while hunting allowing them both access to food sources without competing directly against one another. With its strong wingspan, sharp talons and keen eyesight – the Rough Legged Hawk remains vigilant defender of our skies who will not soon cease protecting our home state from predators above. Moving along we come now to great horned owls…

Great Horned Owls

Great Horned Owl
Great Horned Owl

Moving on from the Rough Legged Hawk, another bird of prey found across Arizona is the Great Horned Owl. It’s highly recognizable due to its large size and distinct coloring. They are also commonly referred to as “tiger owls” or “winged tigers.” These birds have a wingspan up to five feet wide, which allows them to easily soar over their territories in search of food. They feed mainly on small rodents but will take advantage of other opportunities such as carrion when they can find it.

Great Horned Owl range map

Great Horned Owls typically nest in tall trees near open areas where they can hunt effectively, though sometimes they use abandoned nests built by other raptors like Harris’s Hawks or Barn Owls. In addition to providing protection for themselves and their young, these nests offer an ideal place for roosting during the day when not actively hunting. These birds of prey rely heavily on camouflage so that potential predators cannot spot them while resting inside the nests during daylight hours. As with many species of owl, Great Horned Owls communicate using hoots and screeches rather than songs like some other types of birds.

The Great Horned Owl is one of the most successful hunters among all avian predators and has adapted well to living alongside humans in both rural and urban environments throughout Arizona. Their presence is seen frequently around campgrounds, golf courses, parks, cemeteries and just about any area where small mammals thrive. With no natural enemies aside from man-made threats such as habitat loss or poaching, this incredible bird continues to be an enduring symbol of nature’s beauty in the state.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Best Time Of Year To Observe These Birds Of Prey In Arizona?

The best time of year to observe birds of prey in Arizona is a question that begs attention; these majestic creatures are truly a sight to behold. Whether you’re an avid bird-watcher or simply curious, here’s what you need to know:

  1. Early spring: During this season, many species of hawks and falcons migrate through the state.
  2. Summer months: This is when resident raptors breed and can be seen nesting in trees and cliffs throughout Arizona.
  3. Fall: The fall migration brings more soaring visitors from northern climates into the area.
  4. Winter: Many birds remain in the region during winter and can often be spotted perched on rooftops or power poles with food in their talons.

With so much biodiversity across the Grand Canyon State, it’s no wonder why observing these stunning predators has become such a popular pastime for locals and tourists alike! With careful planning, keen eyesight, and some luck – there’s always something new to discover within Arizona’s skies all year round!

Are There Any Special Safety Precautions To Take When Observing These Birds?

Safety is an important consideration when observing birds of prey. It can be difficult to assess the risk posed by these powerful and unpredictable creatures, particularly in unknown environments. Therefore, it’s essential to take certain precautions before engaging with them. This article will explore some of the special safety measures that should be taken when viewing Arizona birds of prey.

Before approaching a bird of prey, first determine if there are any legal restrictions or prohibitions related to your location. Additionally, always make sure you have permission from private landowners prior to entering their property. When observing any wild animal, keep a safe distance so as not to startle or disturb them while they’re hunting or nesting. Be mindful of your own movements and avoid sudden gestures which could scare away wildlife nearby. If possible, bring binoculars for better viewing without getting too close. Furthermore, wear clothing that blends into the environment and does not draw attention to yourself – bright colors may disrupt the natural behavior of birds and other animals in the area.

It’s also recommended that visitors learn about local species beforehand; familiarize yourself with what types of birds live in Arizona and how best to observe them safely. Knowing about common behaviors such as hunting patterns or signs of aggression can help ensure you remain out of harm’s way while still having an enjoyable experience with nature. Finally, never attempt to handle any wildlife – instead focus on enjoying these magnificent creatures from afar!

Are There Any Areas In Arizona That Are Particularly Good For Bird Watching?

Are there any areas in Arizona that are particularly good for bird watching? Birding is a popular activity across the US, and Arizona offers some of the best opportunities. From desert habitats to mountain forests, the Grand Canyon State has something to offer all kinds of birdwatchers. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. The Sonoran Desert region contains many species of birds, including roadrunners, Gambel’s quail, flycatchers, hummingbirds, warblers and orioles.
  2. The White Mountains area holds an abundance of raptors such as eagles, hawks and falcons – perfect for those looking for larger birds of prey!
  3. Saguaro National Park provides access to more than 200 species of birds from around North America. It’s also a great place to observe cactus wrens and gilded flickers which live among the saguaros.
  4. If you’re into waterfowl then head out to Yuma County where you can find herons, ducks and geese on Lake Havasu or at Imperial Wildlife Refuge near El Centro California.

If you’re planning a trip to Arizona for birdwatching make sure you check local regulations so that your experience is safe and enjoyable for both humans and wildlife alike! Also be sure to bring along binoculars or a spotting scope if you’d like better views of distant species – these will certainly come in handy when trying to identify your feathered friends!

Are There Any Other Bird Species In Arizona That Are Predatory?

Arizona is known for its diverse wildlife, but predatory birds often get the most attention. From majestic bald eagles to hawks and owls that hunt small rodents in their natural habitat, these feathered predators are captivating to watch. But are there any other bird species in Arizona that are also predatory?

By exploring the varied terrain of Arizona’s desert regions, it becomes clear that there is a wide range of avian predators living in this picturesque landscape. Raptors such as falcons and kestrels can be seen soaring above fields and arid plains hunting snakes, lizards, and even smaller birds. In addition, vultures circle around searching for carrion while ospreys plunge into lakes after fish with incredible precision.

The skies over Arizona host an array of impressive aerial hunters – each one unique in appearance yet equally equipped to survive life among the wild creatures below. As we witness these silent sentinels on the wing, it’s easy to appreciate why they have earned our admiration through centuries of coexistence between humans and nature.

Are There Any Bird Watching Clubs Or Groups In Arizona That Specialize In Birds Of Prey?

Are there any bird watching clubs or groups in Arizona that specialize in birds of prey? This question is a great way to learn more about the various species of predatory birds found throughout the state. Bird watchers often have an eye for detail, and by joining one of these clubs, they can hone their skills while learning from experts who have extensive knowledge on all types of birds.

In addition to allowing members to get closer to nature, many organizations offer educational programs and workshops that teach participants about different aspects of Avian life. These activities may include lectures on identification techniques, field trips where individuals can observe predators up close, and outdoor activities like hikes or photography sessions. Many clubs also host events such as festivals or seminars focused on conservation efforts related to protecting endangered species. By taking part in these events, birdwatchers are supporting important research initiatives and helping ensure that future generations can enjoy the beauty of Arizona’s avian wildlife.

Birdwatching offers many opportunities for enrichment and enjoyment. Through active participation with local clubs and organizations, enthusiasts can build connections with other passionate birders while contributing to meaningful projects that will help preserve Arizona’s unique biodiversity.


The majestic birds of prey in Arizona are an awe-inspiring sight to behold. Many people don’t realize that the best time for viewing these raptors is actually during winter months, when they migrate south from their summer homes in Canada and Alaska. It’s also important to remember that safety should come first when observing these birds; never get too close or attempt to handle them as they can become aggressive if provoked.

Despite the precautions necessary when watching birds of prey, it’s a great way to connect with nature and appreciate Arizona’s natural beauty. There are plenty of areas around the state where you can observe these powerful creatures, such as Lake Havasu State Park or Saguaro National Park. Plus, there are several birding clubs dedicated to monitoring and helping protect our feathered friends in the Grand Canyon State.

Although some may be intimidated by the predatory behavior of these magnificent animals, taking part in bird watching provides a unique opportunity to experience Arizona wildlife up close. With just a little bit of research and preparation, you can make your next outdoor adventure one that will leave lasting memories and impressions!