Hawks In Arizona with Pictures

Welcome to the Grand Canyon State, where sunsets are stunning and hawks soar through the sky. Arizona’s unique geography provides a perfect habitat for these majestic birds of prey, making it an ideal place to observe them in their natural environment. In this article, we’ll explore why hawks have made a home in Arizona, what species can be found here, and how you can get close enough to watch them in action. So join us as we take a closer look at some of our feathered friends!

Hawks have been captivating humans since ancient times; they even appear on cave paintings dating back 40,000 years ago! These powerful creatures possess incredible vision that allows them to spot potential meals from miles away. It’s no surprise then that so many hawk species choose Arizona as their favorite nesting ground – with its diverse landscapes there is something for everyone! From desert scrublands to towering mountainsides, the state offers plenty of places for these predators to hunt and rest between flights.

Arizona has more than 20 different species of hawk living within its borders – ranging from large red-tailed hawks all the way down to tiny hummingbird hawks. Each bird boasts beautiful colors and patterns that make it easy to recognize in flight or perched atop a cactus branch. But if you want to witness these graceful hunters up close, your best bet is to visit one of the numerous wildlife areas throughout the state dedicated specifically for observing birds like hawks. With patience and luck, you may just catch sight of a soaring eagle or two!

Harris Hawk

Harris's Hawk
Harris Hawk

Ah, the Harris Hawk. It’s not often that you come across a bird with such an air of importance and majesty – but this is exactly what one can expect from Arizona’s very own Harris’ hawk! These hawks are known for their impressive hunting abilities, as well as their strong family bonds; it’s no wonder they’ve become so popular in the area! As if that weren’t enough to make them stand out, these birds also have some unique identifying features.

Harris's Hawk range map

For starters, they have bright red feathers on their heads and backs. Their wingspan can reach up to four feet long, making them a sight to behold when flying through the sky. Furthermore, they usually hunt in groups or ‘casts’ which adds yet another layer of intrigue to these remarkable creatures. So next time you find yourself looking at the skies above Arizona, keep an eye out for a few members of the Harris’ hawk clan – you won’t be disappointed! Transitioning into the next section: Identifying features of red-tailed hawk? Sure thing – let’s take a look at those now…

Identifying Features Of Red-Tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk1
Red-Tailed Hawk

The Red-tailed Hawk is a species of hawk found in the United States and across North America. Distinguishing features include reddish-tawny feathers on the tail, white stripes on its wings and legs, and a brown head and body. As one of the most common hawks in Arizona, it’s important to be able to identify them correctly.

Red-tailed Hawk range map

Red tailed hawks can reach up to 25 inches in length with a 56 inch wingspan and males are typically smaller than females. This bird has distinctive red coloring at the base of their tails as well as markings along its chest that create an arrow pattern when viewed from below. Its scientific name is Buteo jamaicensis which reflects its Latin American origin.

In addition to these identifying characteristics, red tailed hawks have long broad wings and they soar gracefully while hunting for small mammals like rodents or birds during flight. They are also known to use perches such as tree branches or power lines while searching for prey before swooping down quickly to capture their target. With this knowledge we can better understand how to recognize a red tailed hawk in our area. From here we will look into the characteristics of Cooper’s Hawk next.

Characteristics Of Cooper’s Hawk

Cooper's Hawk
Cooper’s Hawk

Verily, Cooper’s Hawk is one of the most impressive birds that can be found in Arizona. It is a medium-sized hawk and looks like a Sharp Shinned Hawk, but larger with a brownish red head, back and wings. Its tail has dark bands which separate it from Gray Hawk species. The body size of this bird ranges between 16 to 25 inches long and its wingspan varies between 30 to 40 inches wide.

Cooper's Hawk range map

Cooper’s Hawk mainly feeds on small mammals like mice and squirrels as well as some smaller birds such as doves or starlings. These hawks are also known for their agility and speed when hunting prey due to their high quality vision. They nest close to wooded areas where they build large stick nests at the top of trees. With these characteristics, Coopers Hawk makes an amazing sight in Arizona skies!

The physical attributes of sharp-shinned hawks differ significantly from those of Coopers Hawks making them easily distinguishable from each other.

Physical Attributes Of Sharp-Shinned Hawk

Sharp-shinned Hawk
Sharp-Shinned Hawk

Moving on from the characteristics of Cooper’s Hawk, we will now look into the physical attributes of Sharp-Shinned Hawks. These hawks are small and compact with dark brown feathers covering their bodies. They have white checkered wings that have a very distinctive pattern when they take flight.

Sharp-Shinned Hawks can be identified by several features:

  • Plumage:
  • Dark brown body feathers with light streaks down below
  • White checkered wings
  • Tail: Steeply squared off tail with narrow bands of grayish coloration
  • Eyes: Yellow eyes with red eye ring around them
  • Legs & Feet: Long yellow legs and long talons for gripping its prey
Sharp-shinned Hawk range map

The combination of these features makes the Sharp-Shinned hawk easily recognizable in Arizona skies. With its keen vision, it is able to spot potential prey from far away distances. This allows it to quickly swoop in for a kill before other predators do. As such, this species plays an important role in maintaining balance within local ecosystems. Onward then to our next section which focuses on the description of Ferruginous Hawks

Description Of Ferruginous Hawk

Ferruginous Hawk
Ferruginous Hawk
The Ferruginous Hawk is the largest of all buteos and can be found in Arizona. It is a large, powerful hawk with a broad wingspan that ranges from 47 to 57 inches. The upperparts are usually rusty-red while the underparts are white or pale buff.FeatureDescriptionScientific Name
SizeLargeButeo regalis
ColoringRusty-Red & White/Pale Buff
Wingspan47 – 57 Inches
Ferruginous Hawk range map

Ferruginous Hawks generally have heavily streaked breast and belly feathers and a long tail banded with blackish brown and whitish gray. Their legs are feathered down to their talons which helps them keep warm during cold weather seasons. They feed on small mammals such as jackrabbits, ground squirrels and mice, along with some birds, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates. These hawks hunt by soaring overhead at high altitudes before diving quickly for their prey on the ground below.

These raptors require open grasslands for hunting and prefer areas where prairie dog towns occur because they provide an abundant source of food year round. By understanding more about this species’ behavior patterns, habitat requirements, diet preferences and life history characteristics we can better understand how to conserve ferruginous hawk populations in Arizona. With these insights into their environment we can move forward towards protecting our precious wildlife resources now and into the future. Transitioning next to distinguishing gray hawk from other species…

Distinguishing Gray Hawk From Other Species

Gray Hawk
Gray Hawk

There are three species of hawks typically found in Arizona: the gray hawk, rough-legged hawk and zone-tailed hawk. The gray hawk is the most common of these species, but it can be difficult to distinguish from the other two varieties. While all three have similar coloring and markings, there are a few key differences that can help with identification.

Gray Hawk range map

The gray hawk has light brown upper wings with dark stripes on its tail feathers and white underwings with dark barring. Its body is mostly grey or light brown, with a long rounded tail. In flight, they appear large and buoyant. Rough-legged hawks have lighter colored heads than the gray ones, as well as darker legs and feet. Their tails also tend to be more square shaped rather than round like those of the gray variety. Zone-tailed hawks are larger than either of the others, having broad wingspan which gives them a distinct silhouette when flying overhead. They also have barred banding along their tail feathers unlike either of the other two species.

By taking note of these unique characteristics, one can easily tell apart a Gray Hawk from any of its lookalikes inhabiting Arizona’s skies.

Northern Goshawk: A Rare Sight In Arizona

Northern Goshawk
Northern Goshawk

Surprisingly, the Northern Goshawk is a rare sight in Arizona. It has been recorded only 11 times within Grand Canyon National Park since 1990 and just twice outside of it. This makes it far less common than other hawks like Red-tailed Hawk or Cooper’s Hawk which are more frequently seen across the state.

The Northern Goshawk prefers coniferous forests for nesting and roosting, so if you’re looking to spot one your best bet would be at higher elevations such as those found around the Grand Canyo. They can also sometimes be spotted soaring over open fields searching for prey such as rabbits, reptiles, and rodents.

Northern Goshawk range map

These birds are very skittish when disturbed by humans however, making them difficult to observe up close. Even though they have an extensive range throughout North America, these majestic animals remain elusive in many areas including Arizona where their sightings are few and far between. On the bright side this means that spotting one is quite special!

Swainson’s Hawk: An Unusual Sight For Residents

Swainson's Hawk
Swainson’s Hawk

Residents of Arizona may be familiar with Cooper’s Hawk, a common sight in the region. However, they may not have had the pleasure of seeing Swainson’s Hawk, an uncommon species that is occasionally spotted throughout the state. This bird is unique to many areas due to its coloration and large size. It has a white head and brown body with black wings and tail feathers. The long wingspan can measure up to four feet when fully extended!

Swainson's Hawk range map

Swainson’s Hawks prefer open habitats such as grassland or agricultural fields for nesting and hunting. They often migrate south during winter months, making appearances at Grand Canyon National Park or other parts of Southern Arizona from November through April. When residents are lucky enough to spy this majestic creature soaring high above them, it’s certainly worth taking notice – an experience not to be forgotten easily! Transiting smoothly into the next section topic on White-tailed Hawk: A Common Sight in the Region.

White-Tailed Hawk: A Common Sight In The Region

White-tailed Hawk
White-Tailed Hawk

The white-tailed hawk is an incredibly common sight to behold in Arizona. In fact, it’s estimated that at least 95% of the state’s population of this species can be found within its boundaries throughout the year! From the grand canyon to Tonto National Forest, these birds are a familiar sight for Arizonans and visitors alike.

Here are four ways you might spot them:

  1. Soaring high above open fields or deserts
  2. Perching on cacti or telephone wires
  3. Hunting small rodents from low tree branches
  4. Flying close to human habitations searching for food scraps
White-tailed Hawk range map

Due to their visibility, they have become a beloved part of living in Arizona—much admired by birdwatchers and casual observers alike for their beauty and gracefulness when soaring through the air. They also play an important role in keeping nature balanced as one of the main scavengers in the desert ecosystem. With such an impressive presence across the state, it’s no wonder why white-tailed hawks are often referred to as “Arizona’s Bird”! Transitioning into our next topic, northern harriers rarely visit Arizona but their appearances still make quite a stir amongst wildlife enthusiasts in The Grand Canyon State.

Northern Harrier: An Uncommon Visitor To The State

Northern Harrier
Northern Harrier

The Northern Harrier, also known as the Goose Hawk or Marsh Hawk, is an uncommon visitor to Arizona. A large portion of its population can be found in Canada and Alaska during breeding season, but they will migrate southward when winter sets in. During migration, a few may make their way down into parts of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.

SightingsBreeding SeasonMigration Time
Rarely seen in AZMostly reside in Canada/AlaskaTravel South for Winter Seasons
Swainson’s Hawks Migrate through AZPrimarily hunt small mammalsSpend most time soaring over prairies
Northern Harrier range map

In addition to the Northern Harrier, Swainson’s Hawks are often spotted migrating along the same routes that lead through Arizona. When these hawks visit our state, it’s usually just passing through on their way from one destination to another. They spend much of their time soaring high above meadows and prairies looking for small animals such as rodents to feed on.

These two species of hawk provide birders with exciting opportunities to observe some of nature’s majestic creatures up close. While sightings are rare here in Arizona due to their migratory behavior and preferred habitat requirements, keep your eyes open for any signs of them while you’re out exploring! Transitioning next into discussing the ‘Short-tailed Hawk: A Rare Visitor To Arizona’, this species’ sighting history is even more elusive than that of its counterparts mentioned previously.

Short-Tailed Hawk: A Rare Visitor To Arizona

Short-tailed Hawk
Short-Tailed Hawk

The Short-Tailed Hawk is an uncommon visitor to Arizona, and can often be seen soaring over the desert in search of prey. It stands out from other hawks due to its unique black flight feathers, which are longer than those of most birds. The hawk has a wingspan that averages around two feet across, making it smaller than many other species of hawks.

Short-tailed Hawk range map

As its name suggests, the Short-Tailed Hawk is primarily found near deserts and dry areas with sparse vegetation. While they may venture into urbanized regions during their migratory journey, this type of hawk prefers more rural settings where there’s plenty of space for them to hunt.

Additionally, they stay away from high altitudes, preferring to remain close to ground level while hunting or roosting. This makes them somewhat difficult to spot among Arizona Hawks unless you know what you’re looking for! With patience and luck though, these rare birds can provide birders with a spectacular view. As such sightings become increasingly more frequent in the area, people have begun to recognize the beauty and grace of the majestic Short-Tailed Hawk as it visits Arizona each year.

Transitioning now onto Broad-Winged Hawk: An Uncommon Sight in Arizona…

Broad-Winged Hawk: An Uncommon Sight In Arizona

Broad-winged Hawk
Broad-Winged Hawk

Unlike the short-tailed hawk, which is a rare visitor to Arizona, the broad-winged hawk is an uncommon sight. This species of raptor can be distinguished by its slaty black wings and back with white patches on the rump and shoulders. Its belly is usually barred in brown or reddish colors, while its tail has four narrow bands at the tip. The broad-winged hawks are often found soaring high above open woods and fields looking for food sources like small mammals and birds.

Broad-winged Hawk range map

Cooper’s Hawks and White Tailed Hawks also inhabit Arizona’s skies but they aren’t seen as often as Broad Winged Hawk due to their more secluded habitats.

Cooper's Hawk
Cooper’s Hawk
White-tailed Hawk
White Tailed Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk prefers dense forest areas where it hunts woodland animals such as squirrels, reptiles, or even other smaller birds. Similarly, White Tailed Hawks prefer dry grasslands and arid environments so sightings tend to occur less frequently than those of Broad Winged Hawks. Both these species have longer tails compared to that of the Broad Winged Hawk making them easier to distinguish from one another when flying overhead. With this knowledge in mind we turn our attention now to rough-legged hawk: an unusual visitor to the state.

Rough-Legged Hawk: An Unusual Visitor To The State

Rough-legged Hawk
Rough-Legged Hawk

Rough-legged hawks, while not common in Arizona, can be seen during winter months. This species of hawk typically spends its summers in the Arctic tundra and winters farther south, sometimes even as far as South America. They are usually considered to be short-tailed hawks, with a wingspan between 4 and 5 feet wide.

The following points provide more information on rough-legged hawks:

  • These birds have feathered legs that extend down to their toes and may help them survive cold weather.
  • During migration they fly high into the sky at altitudes over 10,000 feet, then glide gracefully to conserve energy.
  • Their diet consists primarily of small rodents such as voles or mice but also includes insects like grasshoppers or dragonflies.
  • When perched for long periods of time, these birds tend to hunch up their shoulders and spread out their tail feathers for balance.
Rough-legged Hawk range map

In comparison to other species of hawk found in Arizona, the Rough-Legged Hawk is an unusual sight due to its northern habitat range and migratory habits. Although they may only spend part of the year here, it’s always exciting when one lands nearby! Moving forward we will discuss another type of hawk commonly found throughout Arizona – the red-shouldered hawk.

Red-Shouldered Hawk: A Common Sight In Arizona

Red-Shouldered Hawk1
Red-Shouldered Hawk

The Red-shouldered Hawk is a common sight in Arizona, and the species can be found throughout most of the state. It’s easy to recognize these hawks thanks to their distinctive dark brows and rusty red shoulders. They have long wings that range from 17 to 22 inches in length, and they often inhabit woodlands near streams or rivers. The male Red-shouldered Hawks are usually smaller than the females, but both sexes display similar coloration.

These birds feed on small animals such as mice, lizards, frogs, insects, snakes, and even other birds. Their diet also includes carrion like roadkill if it’s available. Red-shouldered Hawks typically hunt by flying low over open fields before swooping down on unsuspecting prey below them. When perching for long periods of time, these hawks will sun themselves with outstretched wings in order to warm up after a cold night.

Red-shouldered Hawk range map

Red-shouldered Hawks play an important role in the ecology of Arizona’s forests and grasslands. As predators of rodents, they help keep animal populations under control while providing food sources for larger predator species like eagles and owls. By keeping insect populations in check too, they create healthier habitats for all wildlife living there. With its striking plumage and impressive hunting skills, the Red-shouldered Hawk has become one of the most beloved raptors in Arizona.

Common Black Hawk: One Of The Most Popular Hawks In Arizona

Common Black Hawk
Common Black Hawk

Have you ever seen a dark brown hawk soaring through the sky? If so, chances are it was a Common Black Hawk. These broad-winged hawks can be found throughout Arizona and are one of the most popular birds of prey in the region.

Common Black Hawks have wingspans that range from four to five feet long and they reach heights up to three feet tall. They feature feathers that are mainly black or dark brown with some lighter colored accents along their chest and belly. The majority of these hawks live in riparian areas near rivers, streams, and lakes but they also inhabit other open spaces like deserts and grasslands.

Common Black Hawk range map

These raptors feed on small animals such as rodents and reptiles which helps maintain the local ecosystems by keeping the animal populations balanced. In addition, Common Black Hawks help keep insect populations under control since they often eat insects as well. With their wide array of habitats and diet options, these majestic birds thrive in Arizona’s varied landscape making them an important part of our wildlife community.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Tell A Harris Hawk From A Red-Tailed Hawk?

Differentiating between two different types of hawks can be a daunting task. Fortunately, there are several distinguishing characteristics that can help you tell harris hawks and red-tailed hawks apart.

The most notable difference between the two is their size: Harris hawks tend to be significantly smaller than their red-tailed counterparts. Additionally, Harris Hawks have a more slender body shape with longer wings when compared to Red Tailed Hawks.

When it comes to coloration, this is also an effective way to distinguish between the two species:

  • Harris Hawks:
  • Head: Reddish Brown
  • Back & Wings: Dark Brown/Black
  • Tail Feathers: Pale Rusty Color With Black Stripes
  • Red Tail Hawks:
  • Head & Neck: Light Colored with Dark Streaks or Bars
  • Back & Wings: Dark Brown/Red Coloration on Upperparts
  • Tail Feathers: Solid Brick Red in Color

Finally, another important distinction between these raptors is their behavior. While both species prefer open areas such as grasslands and deserts, Harris Hawks are known for being extremely social birds who hunt in groups while red-taileds typically hunt alone or in pairs. Knowing this information can make it easier to identify which type of hawk you’re looking at if they happen to be flying together.

What Is The Difference Between A Cooper’s Hawk And A Sharp-Shinned Hawk?

The difference between a Cooper’s Hawk and a Sharp-shinned Hawk can seem like comparing apples to oranges. But, in reality, these two types of hawks are much more similar than you might think! With their sleek feathers and powerful wingspan, it’s no wonder they have been the subject of many myths throughout history.

To start off, let’s look at some key characteristics that set them apart:

  • Size: A Cooper’s Hawk is noticeably larger than a Sharp-shinned Hawk.
  • Color: The tail feathers on a Cooper’s Hawk tend to be light brown while those on a Sharp-Shinned Hawk tend to be darker greyish blue.
  • Weight: A Cooper’s Hawk typically weighs twice as much as its smaller counterpart.
  • Beak Shape: A Cooper’s Hawk has an angled beak which is sharper than the rounded beak of the Sharp-shinned Hawk.

These differences may not seem grandiose but they make all the difference when trying to differentiate between species of hawk. If you were ever lucky enough to spot one of these majestic birds soaring through the sky, being able to tell them apart would certainly add something special to your experience. It almost feels like having a superpower – if only for a moment!

Are Ferruginous Hawks Endangered?

Are ferruginous hawks endangered? This is a common question for many birdwatchers and conservationists alike. Fortunately, recent surveys of the species have provided us with some answers.

In markdown format:

  • According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the global population of these birds has declined significantly since 1970
  • The North American population of ferruginous hawks continues to be threatened by habitat destruction, pollution, and human disturbance
  • As of 2019, they are classified as near threatened on the IUCN Red List due to their declining numbers in parts of Canada and Mexico

Due to their reduced population size, conservation efforts are being made both domestically and internationally. For example, various organizations such as BirdLife International are working together with governments worldwide to ensure suitable habitats are maintained. Additionally, public awareness campaigns have been launched targeting local communities to spread knowledge about this important species.

Overall, it’s clear that more work needs to be done if we want future generations to continue admiring ferruginous hawks in their natural habitats. With proper research funding and continued collaboration from stakeholders around the world, there is hope yet for saving this beautiful creature from extinction.

Is The Northern Goshawk Considered A Threat To Other Birds In Arizona?

The Northern Goshawk is a large bird of prey that can be found in many different parts of the world. It has long been considered to be an apex predator, capable of hunting a wide range of smaller birds and animals. But what about its presence in Arizona? Is the Northern Goshawk considered a threat to other birds there?

In order to answer this question it is important to look at both sides of the issue. On one hand, the Northern Goshawk is known for being quite aggressive when it comes to defending its territory from intruders or competitors. This means that if another species were to enter into an area where a goshawk was already living, they could face serious danger. On the other hand, however, research suggests that the goshawks are not actually responsible for significant declines in bird populations in Arizona:

  1. Studies have shown that only 5% of all recorded deaths among small songbirds were due to predation by Northern Goshawks.
  2. The majority of these deaths were attributed instead to human-related activities such as habitat destruction and vehicle collisions with windows and buildings.
  3. Additionally, some evidence even suggests that goshawks may help protect other bird species by acting as natural predators who keep population numbers under control and reduce competition over resources like food and nesting sites within their territories.

Overall, while it appears clear that Northern Goshawks do pose some level of threat to other birds in Arizona, it does not seem likely that they are having any significant negative impacts on overall populations or biodiversity levels there either directly or indirectly through predation alone.

What Kind Of Habitat Do Swainson’s Hawks Prefer?

Swainson’s Hawks are a species of raptor found in the wild and can be seen in many areas around the world. They’re known for their distinctive hooked bill, broad wingspan, and striking plumage. When it comes to habitat preferences these birds have some very specific needs that must be met if they’re going to thrive.

The Swainson’s Hawk prefers open grassland habitats with plenty of space to soar high into the sky. They also require wide expanses of trees or brush where they can find shelter from wind and rain as well as hide away while hunting prey. These hawks tend to nest on top of tall trees, using sticks and twigs to build large nests near the trunk which will remain undisturbed by predators or extreme weather conditions. In Arizona specifically, Swainson’s Hawks prefer desert grasslands close to riparian corridors such as creeks or rivers so they can rest and drink water when needed.

When living in an area like Arizona, Swainson’s Hawks need access to ample food sources such as small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and other bird species. To survive here long-term these birds rely heavily on abundant resources throughout their range so conservation efforts should focus on preserving suitable habitat for them year round.


The diverse hawk species in Arizona make for an interesting bird-watching experience. With so many types of hawks, it can be challenging to differentiate one from the other. After all, who wouldn’t want to know if they are looking at a Harris Hawk or a Red-Tailed Hawk? Or how about distinguishing between a Cooper’s Hawk and a Sharp-Shinned Hawk?

It is important to recognize that some species of hawks such as Ferruginous Hawks may be endangered due to habitat destruction and hunting. It would therefore be wise to take extra care when attempting to observe them in their natural environment. The Northern Goshawk population has been known to threaten other birds living in Arizona, but should still be respected by humans. Lastly, Swainson’s Hawks prefer semiarid open grasslands with scattered trees which makes them quite easy to spot.

In conclusion, there are numerous types of hawks inhabiting Arizona skies and you never really know what kind you might come across during your next hike or bird watching session. Have you ever seen any of these majestic creatures soaring through the air?