Hawks In Ohio with Pictures

Ohio is home to a variety of beautiful birds, but one species stands out from the rest: hawks. These majestic creatures soar through the sky with ease and grace, captivating observers who take in their incredible beauty. Hawks are an integral part of Ohio’s ecosystem and have been for many years – so let’s explore why these animals are so important!

Hawks have been living in Ohio since long before European settlers arrived hundreds of years ago. They’ve adapted to survive in urban areas as well as rural ones, making them incredibly versatile predators that play an essential role in maintaining balance within local ecosystems. We’ll examine how they hunt, what they eat, where they live, and much more – all while exploring the unique characteristics that make each hawk type special.

From Red-tailed Hawks to Great Horned Owls, there’s no denying the excitement surrounding our feathered friends here in Ohio. So come along with us on this journey as we dive into the world of hawks throughout the state!

Cooper’s Hawk

Cooper's Hawk
Cooper’s Hawk

The Cooper’s Hawk is a majestic creature of the skies, soaring and hunting with grace. These hawks are native to Ohio and can be seen gliding about in all parts of the state. The scientific name for this species is Accipiter cooperii, but they are commonly referred to as just “Cooper’s Hawks”. They have sharp eyesight that allows them to detect their prey from far away, making them efficient hunters.

Cooper's Hawk range map

These birds have several distinct physical characteristics. Their wingspan typically ranges from 80-96 cm, while their body length usually falls between 35-46 cm. They also possess very long tails which help provide stability when flying at high speeds through thick vegetation or dense forests. Additionally, male Cooper’s Hawks tend to be darker in color than females; often times males will have blackish brown feathers with white barring on the underside of their tail feathers, whereas females are more likely to have gray and chestnut markings instead.

Their diet mainly consists of small mammals such as mice, shrews, voles and rabbits. Occasionally they may even take larger animals like squirrels or pigeons if needed. Furthermore, they may also feed upon smaller birds like doves or sparrows that inhabit the same area as them.

Red-Tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk
Red-Tailed Hawk

The Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) is one of the most common hawks in Ohio. It has a distinctive reddish tail with darker barring and white spots on its underside, which helps to identify it in flight. The scientific name for this hawk, Buteo jamaicensis, comes from Latin words that mean “hawk” and “Jamaica”, respectively.

Red-tailed Hawk range map

Red-tailed Hawks are found throughout Ohio during the breeding season, but they migrate southward towards Mexico and Central America during winter months. They usually return again around March or April as days become longer due to increasing amounts of sunlight. In addition to migrating birds, some individuals remain year round in Ohio depending on food sources available in their habitat.

As spring approaches, Red-tailed Hawks begin nesting activities such as courtship displays by aerial maneuvering followed by mating rituals on the ground. Nests are typically built high up in trees and can be used multiple times over many years before needing repair or replacement. To transition into the subsequent section about ‘Broad-winged Hawk’, these two species overlap geographically both during migration and while breeding; however there are subtle differences between them which will be explored next.

Broad-Winged Hawk

Broad-winged Hawk
Broad-Winged Hawk

The Broad-Winged Hawk is a large hawk that can be found in Ohio. These hawks have distinctive broad wings and short, rounded tails. They are generally brown above with white bars on the underside of their wings and tail feathers. The scientific name for this species is Buteo platypterus, which translates to “broad winged flat tailed” from Latin.

Broad-winged Hawk range map

Broad-winged Hawks feed primarily on small mammals like voles, mice, and squirrels but will also take birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects as part of their diet. In addition to hunting small animals, these hawks will scavenge carrion when available or steal prey from other raptors such as Red-Tailed Hawks and American Kestrels. Unlike many other large hawks they often hunt by flying through thickets rather than soaring high up in the sky since its plumage helps them blend into foliage better than most other raptors.

These hawks migrate in huge flocks called kettles each fall where they soar high up into the air before setting off southward toward Central America and South America that takes place every September/October. As they travel through Ohio during migration they call out loudly while soaring overhead creating an unforgettable chorus of sound across the state’s open skies. With conservation efforts underway throughout Ohio, it is important to remember how vital these majestic creatures are to our environment so that future generations may continue appreciate the beauty of these large hawks in flight. Moving forward we turn our attention towards Sharp-Shinned Hawk which is another common resident found within Ohio’s borders..

Sharp-Shinned Hawk

Sharp-shinned Hawk
Sharp-Shinned Hawk

The Sharp-shinned Hawk is one of the smallest species in the hawk family and can be found throughout most parts of Ohio. Its scientific name is Accipiter striatus which translates to “striated short-legged hunter”, a fitting description for this small but mighty bird with its slender body and long tail. The Sharp Shinned Hawk has a unique plumage that helps it blend into its environment, featuring mottled browns, greys, and white on the upper part of their bodies while their underparts are generally barred or spotted.

Sharp-shinned Hawk range map

In terms of diet, they mainly prey upon smaller birds like sparrows and finches. They also feed on large insects when available. Their preferred hunting style involves flying quickly through dense vegetation so as to surprise unsuspecting prey. This makes them incredibly successful hunters despite their small size!

Sharp-shinned Hawks may not be easily visible due to their camouflage coloring but you might hear them if you’re lucky since they have high pitched calls that sound like “kik kik”. With mild winters and increasing urbanization in Ohio providing plenty of food sources such as backyard feeders, these hawks have become more populous over time. Moving forward, let’s take a look at Swainson’s Hawk.

Swainson’s Hawk

Swainson's Hawk
Swainson’s Hawk

Ironically, while the sharp-shinned hawk is known for its small stature and swift speed, Swainson’s Hawk takes the opposite approach. This majestic bird of prey stands tall at two feet in length and has a wingspan that can reach five feet! The scientific name for this raptor is Buteo swainsoni, with “Buteo” referring to its genus as an eagle or buzzard type of hawk. It is easy to spot due to its unique blue grey coloring, which helps it blend into open skies.

Swainson's Hawk range map

This species of hawk will often soar high above fields and meadows searching for rodents, reptiles and other small creatures that make up their diet. They are also know to eat insects like grasshoppers and locusts during times when food supply may be low. In addition, they have been seen hovering over water sources looking for fish or frogs. As such, Swainson’s Hawks are highly adaptive birds who use both land and air resources equally well!

Harris Hawk

Harris's Hawk
Harris Hawk

The Harris Hawk, also known as the Bay-winged Hawk or Dusky Hawk, is a species of hawk native to Ohio and other parts of North America. These birds are most commonly found in open woodlands and grasslands throughout the state. They hunt by soaring over their habitat and using their sharp eyesight to spot prey on the ground below. The Harris Hawks have long wings which aid them in hunting for small mammals such as mice, rabbits, and squirrels.

Harris's Hawk range map

Harris Hawks can be distinguished from northern harriers because they lack white patches on their tails like those found on northern harriers. Additionally, Harris Hawks’ feathers tend to be more reddish than those of northern harriers. Overall, this bird’s plumage is dark brown with lighter streaks on its chest and head.

These hawks live alone in large territories and migrate south during colder months. During breeding season, pairs of Harris Hawks may nest together but maintain separate territories when not mating. Their diet consists mostly of small rodents, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and sometimes larger birds such as northern harriers. With these adaptations in mind it’s no wonder that the Harris Hawk remains an important part of Ohio’s avian population today! Transitioning into the next section: Northern Goshawks are another raptor common in Ohio whose behavior sets them apart from other species.

Northern Goshawk

Northern Goshawk
Northern Goshawk

The Northern Goshawk is one of the most common hawks in Ohio. It can be found throughout the state and prefers wooded areas, often nesting near large trees or rocks. These birds are characteristically larger than other raptors, with an average wingspan of over four feet! The scientific name for these birds is Accipiter gentilis and they mostly feed on small mammals and birds. They have a distinctive call that consists of a series of short ‘kee’ notes followed by a long ‘krr-ee’ sound.

Northern Goshawk range map

Northern Goshawks are normally solitary hunters but will occasionally hunt cooperatively with another goshawk if prey is plentiful. Their thick feathers provide excellent insulation against cold weather and allow them to remain active during winter months when many other species become dormant. With their impressive size and powerful talons, these majestic predators make for an exciting sighting for birdwatchers all across Ohio! Transitioning into the next section about red-shouldered hawk, these birds also inhabit Ohio’s forests but prefer more open habitats such as fields or wetlands.

Red-Shouldered Hawk

Red-Shouldered Hawk1
Red-Shouldered Hawk

The Northern Goshawk may be the most well-known hawk in Ohio, but there is another species of hawk that can also be found in the state. This second species is the Red-shouldered Hawk, Scientific name: Buteo lineatus.

These hawks are medium sized with a wingspan reaching up to three and a half feet. They have dark brown heads with white streaks along their neck area leading down to their chest which has reddish coloration on it. Adult sharp shinned hawks have bright yellow eyes while juveniles have brown eyes. Their tail feathers are banded with black and white bars.

Red-shouldered Hawk range map

In Ohio, these raptors usually inhabit deciduous forests near water sources such as rivers or streams where they hunt small mammals like mice and voles for food. Here’s some fun facts about red shouldered hawks:

  • They mate for life and both parents help raise their young together
  • In flight, they flap their wings slowly before gliding across open areas
  • During nesting season (March through June), you might hear them perform loud screams or songs from high atop trees
  • Red shouldered hawks tend to migrate south during winter months

It is clear that red shouldered hawks play an important role in our ecosystem by keeping rodent populations in check. Moving forward we will focus on the Rough-legged Hawk, whose habitat overlaps greatly with this species’ own range within Ohio.

Rough-Legged Hawk

Rough-legged Hawk
Rough-Legged Hawk

Rough-legged Hawks are like a graceful and powerful kite, soaring high in the sky over Ohio. Their long yellow legs and white tails make them easy to identify from other birds of prey, as they soar above all else looking for their next meal.

SizeLarger than Red Tailed Hawk
ColorDark Brown Upperparts/White Underparts with Variable Bars and Spots
Wingspan4ft – 5ft (1.2m – 1.5m)
Legs & FeetVery Long Yellow Legs and Talons

Rough-legged Hawks can be found hunting around open fields, meadows, wetlands and ponds during winter months when Rough-legged Buzzards migrate south in search of food. They can also be seen hovering high in the air scanning the ground below for small rodents or rabbits to feast on. During summer months these big birds of prey move up north into Canada where they breed and nest before returning back to Ohio come Fall time.

Rough-legged Hawk range map

In Ohio, you may have been lucky enough to spot one of these majestic hawks mid flight – what a sight that must have been! To see them riding thermals in flocks while calling out loudly is something special indeed. As winters chill sets in, wherever there’s open land these birds will surely follow, so keep your eyes peeled if you want to catch a glimpse of this incredible species here at home.



Moving on from the Broad-winged Hawk, Ohio is also home to another hawk species: the Osprey. This large raptor has a wingspan of up to 5 feet and is easily recognized by its white head, brown body, and crooked yellow beak.

Osprey range map

The Osprey inhabits many areas in Ohio, but they are most commonly spotted near large bodies of water such as Lake Erie. Here they hunt for fish which make up over 90% of their diet. They can also be found along rivers or smaller lakes where there is an abundance of food sources such as frogs and crayfish.

Ohio’s variety of habitats provides ample opportunities for these birds to thrive and reproduce successfully:

  • Inland Areas:
  • Red tailed hawks
  • Northern Harrier (scientific name Circus cyaneus)
  • Coastal Areas:
  • Great Lakes region including Lake Erie
  • Other wetlands and marshes around the state
  • Migration Paths:
    • During late summer/early fall northern harriers migrate through Ohio before heading south for winter
    • Winter months bring Ospreys back north again

Osprey populations have been steadily increasing due to conservation efforts put forth by wildlife advocates across the country. With proper protection and awareness, this majestic bird will continue to soar high above our skies for years to come. Onward then to discuss the Northern Harrier!

Northern Harriers

Northern Harrier
Northern Harrier

Ah, the northern harrier – an ironic name for a bird that is most commonly found in the southern regions of Ohio. This species of hawk may be seen soaring over wetlands and grasslands with its distinctive white rump patch glimmering in the sun. The northern harrier has long been considered to be one of Ohio’s best-kept secrets, but it can certainly hold its own amongst other members of the raptor family such as ferruginous hawks and rough legged hawks.

Northern Harrier range map

The northern harrier breeds throughout much of Ohio during spring and summer months, often nesting in dense marshes or grasslands where they have plenty of access to their primary prey: small mammals like voles and mice. It prefers to hunt by flying low over fields while searching out potential meals, though it will also occasionally soar at great heights in search of food. During winter months this species tends to migrate southward towards warmer climates; however many individuals can still be spotted in certain parts of Ohio throughout late fall and early winter.

In short, the northern harrier is a vital part of Ohio’s diverse ecosystem which should not go overlooked despite its seemingly shy demeanor. Its presence helps maintain balance within local habitats, making it an invaluable asset when considering our state’s avian diversity.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Best Time Of Year To See Hawks In Ohio?

The best time of year to see hawks in Ohio is a question that many birdwatchers have. Hawks are an interesting and majestic species found throughout the state, but their migration patterns make it difficult to predict when they will be seen in any given area. Depending on the type of hawk, the location within Ohio, and other factors such as weather conditions and food availability, there can be different times for viewing these stunning birds.

Thus, knowing which types of hawks live in Ohio, where they migrate from or to during certain seasons, and what environmental conditions influence them can help birders figure out the best time of year to observe them. With this knowledge at hand, one should also research local wildlife refuges and parks since some areas may attract more hawks than others due to their natural habitat. By doing so, individuals can increase their chances of seeing hawks while ensuring they don’t disturb them unnecessarily by entering sensitive habitats.

Overall then, with careful planning and preparation anyone interested in watching hawks in Ohio can do so successfully if they take the necessary steps beforehand; gathering information about the various types of hawks living in the region along with researching potential locations to view them ensures good results regardless of season or climate changes.

Are There Any Special Locations In Ohio Where Hawks Are More Likely To Be Found?

When it comes to bird watching, many people are interested in finding out which locations offer the best chance of observing hawks. Are there special places where these majestic birds can be found more frequently? The answer is yes – and Ohio offers a few prime spots for hawk-spotting.

Ohio’s diverse landscape makes it an ideal habitat for both permanent resident species as well as transient migrants. In particular, areas with open grasslands or woodlands near wetlands provide ample food sources and nest sites for hawks. Furthermore, certain ridges along rivers and streams may also serve as attractive roosting sites for migrating raptors during spring and fall migrations. One such site is the Miami Valley Hawkwatch located at the edge of Dayton’s John Bryan State Park, which provides spectacular views of soaring hawks throughout the year due to its location between two major migration routes. Another area that often hosts large numbers of raptors during autumn is Magee Marsh Wildlife Area situated on Lake Erie’s western shoreline. Here you’ll find several types of locally breeding hawks alongside numerous other migrant species traveling south from Canada each September.

In addition to established wildlife refuges like those mentioned above, lookouts atop nearby hills or mountains can also make great vantage points for seeing a variety of different kinds of hawks depending on the season. With patience and sharp eyesight, one can spot Redtail Hawks, Sharp Shinned Hawks, American Kestrels, Ospreys, Northern Harriers, Broadwinged Hawks just to name a few! So if you’re looking for some avian excitement this summer (or any time), then you won’t want to miss out on all the wonderful opportunities that Ohio has to offer when it comes to viewing our feathered friends in their natural habitats.

What Kind Of Habitat Do Hawks Prefer In Ohio?

Hawks are birds of prey found all over the world, and they thrive in many types of habitats. While hawks have a wide range of habitat preferences, there are some common elements that draw them to particular areas. When it comes to Ohio specifically, what kind of habitat do hawks prefer?

Ohio’s diverse landscape provides an array of potential homes for hawks. They typically like open and grassy fields with plenty of perching spots where they can keep watch for their next meal. Hawks also need access to water sources nearby so they can stay hydrated and hunt for food. Additionally, these raptors find safety from predators by nesting in tall trees or rocky cliffs away from humans. Different species may prefer different terrain features depending on their size and habits; however, most will stick close to the same type of environment within their chosen region.

In order to attract more hawk populations into Ohio, providing suitable living conditions is key. Planting native shrubs and trees around wetlands or ponds will help create ideal roosting spaces while still offering ample hunting opportunities as well as safe havens near natural water sources. Providing fish-bearing streams and rivers will also encourage hawks looking for easy meals without having to travel too far away from home. With its combination of ecosystems, Ohio offers great potential for attracting various kinds of hawks if its inhabitants strive to recreate those preferred environments through conservation efforts

Are Hawks A Protected Species In Ohio?

Are hawks a protected species? This is an important question to consider, particularly when discussing wildlife conservation. In the United States, there are laws in place that protect certain animal species from harm and exploitation. It’s essential to understand which animals fall under these protection laws to ensure their safety and prevent further endangerment of their populations.

In Ohio specifically, hawks have been classified as a protected species since 1972 with the passage of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This act provides legal protections for migratory bird species such as hawks by prohibiting any activity that harms them or disrupts their habitat without permission from US Fish and Wildlife Services. Additionally, it forbids hunting, capturing, selling, trading, bartering or offering them for sale without special permit approval.

These regulations help preserve hawk populations across Ohio and contribute greatly to preserving biodiversity throughout the state. The combination of careful management practices alongside protective legislation helps maintain healthy ecosystems and safeguards against illegal poaching of endangered bird species like hawks. By understanding the importance of protecting these birds and adhering strictly to applicable regulations governing them we can work towards ensuring they remain safe within our environment for years to come.

What Types Of Food Do Hawks Typically Hunt?

When it comes to what types of food hawks typically hunt, there is a variety of options. Hawks are opportunistic predators that feed primarily on small mammals such as mice and voles, but also eat reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects, birds, eggs and carrion. Depending on the species of hawk found in a particular area, they may also be known to scavenge for roadkill or hunt other animals like squirrels.

Hawks have adapted well to living close to humans and can often be seen hunting near urban areas where their prey is more abundant. In addition to these food sources, some hawks will take advantage of backyard birdfeeders or even human-provided handouts. They tend to avoid competition with larger predatory birds by focusing on smaller prey items such as rodents and insects rather than large birds or waterfowl.

Given their adaptability and wide range of available food sources, it’s no surprise that hawks are able to thrive in many habitats around the world. Knowing what kinds of prey these raptors prefer can help people better understand how best to coexist with them when they come into contact with each other.


The beauty of hawks soaring through the sky is a sight to behold. Watching them gracefully glide in search of food like an eagle hunting for prey is mesmerizing. As Ohio residents, we are lucky to witness these majestic creatures year-round.

When it comes to spotting hawks in our state, spring and fall are the best times of year. This is when they tend to migrate or pass through, which makes them easier to spot. Additionally, certain areas such as wooded habitats near bodies of water offer prime habitat for hawk species native to Ohio.

Hawks are protected by law and regulated by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). They feed on small mammals, reptiles and insects – but also carrion if available – all of which can be found throughout most parts of the Buckeye State. To sum up, seeing a hawk soar high above us like a kite on a windy day gives us nature lovers something special to admire!