Different species of this bird come in a wide variety of sizes and plumage, or feathers. They have sharp talons on their feet and sharp curved beaks. Their colors and patterns range wildly, and some birds are solid in color while others have markings or bands. Hawks have relatively large eyes, though not quite as large as those of owls, who need to see clearly in the dark.
Interesting Facts About the Hawk
Hawks are incredible birds and impeccable predators. There are many different species of them, and we highlight several interesting species below.
Harris’s Hawk – This species lives in the Southwest United States and much of Mexico. Some people call these birds the wolves of the sky, because they hunt in packs. In fact, they are one of the only species of hawks that works together to trap and catch prey.
Ferruginous Hawk – This is one of the largest hawk species around – the largest individuals having a wingspan up to five feet across! Their name means “rust-colored,” in reference to the reddish-colored patterns on their plumage.
Red-Tailed Hawk – Red-tailed hawks get their name from the reddish coloration on their tail tips. These birds are incredibly common, and if you see a hawk soaring through the sky, it is most likely red-tailed! If you are watching a movie, and hear an eagle cry echo through the sky, chances are that sound actually came from a red-tailed hawk.
Red-Shouldered Hawk – Not to be outdone by their red-tailed cousins, red-shouldered hawks have, you guessed it, reddish-colored feathers on their shoulders. This species sometimes forms unlikely alliances with crows. Normally, American crows chase and hassle this red-shouldered species. However, if they spot a great horned owl, both the crows and the red-shouldered hawk join forces and mob the owl.
The conservation status of hawks varies depending on the species. Some hawks, such as the red-tailed hawk and Cooper's hawk, are considered common and widespread in North America. However, other species, such as the ferruginous hawk and the swallow-tailed kite, are considered endangered or threatened.
A hawk's average lifespan in the wild can span up to 20 years.
These birds live in virtually every single habitat on earth, save for extreme polar regions. They live in both tropical regions with high rainfall, and dry arid regions. They also inhabit temperate regions with warm weather in the summer and cold weather in the winter.
They hunt rabbits, snakes, rats, mice, squirrels, lizards, fish, birds, and virtually anything small enough to catch. Some species hunt anything they can catch, but others specialize on a few types of prey and eat nothing else.
45–65 cm (18–26 in) in length, with a wingspan from 110–141 cm (3 ft 7 in – 4 ft 8 in).
Typically weighing from 690 to 1,600 g (1.5 to 3.5 lb)
Their sizes can range from as small as 9 inches (23 cm) to as large as 27 inches (69 cm) in length.