Table of Contents
Are you a bird enthusiast looking to explore the natural wonders of Alabama? If so, you’re in luck! Alabama is home to seven stunning species of hawks, each with their unique habitats, behaviors, physical characteristics, and prey.
From the iconic Red-tailed Hawks to the elusive Sharp-shinned Hawks, these birds of prey offer a fascinating glimpse into the diverse wildlife of Alabama.
As you grab your binoculars and venture out into the wilderness, you’ll be able to spot these majestic hawks soaring through the sky, searching for their next meal.
Whether you’re a seasoned birdwatcher or a curious beginner, exploring Alabama’s hawk species is a thrilling and educational experience.
So, let’s dive into the world of hawks and discover what makes each species so unique and captivating!
- Alabama is home to seven species of hawks, including buteos, accipiters, harriers, and rough-legged hawks, Red-shouldered hawks, red-tailed hawks, Cooper’s hawks, and Northern harriers are year-round residents in Alabama, while Sharp-shinned hawks and Broad-winged hawks are seasonal visitors.
- Hawks in Alabama occupy different habitats and have distinct behaviors and physical characteristics.
- To spot these hawks, it is recommended to use binoculars or a spotting scope.
Types of Hawks
You’ll be interested to know that there are two main types of hawks in Alabama: buteos and accipiters. Buteo hawks, such as the Red-shouldered, Red-tailed, and Broad-winged hawks, have distinctive physical characteristics and behaviors.
Red-shouldered hawks occupy deciduous and mixed forests near bodies of water, while Red-tailed hawks favor open country and fields with high places to perch.
Broad-winged hawks fly high above during breeding season and form large flocks during fall migration.
Accipiter hawks, including Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned hawks, are also found in Alabama. Cooper’s hawks wait and listen for prey in mature forests, while Sharp-shinned hawks are more secretive in nature and tend to stay out of sight.
Hawk watching is a popular activity in Alabama, with conservation efforts in place to protect these stunning birds of prey.
[Related Post: 7 Types Of Butterflies In Alabama]
Habitats and Behaviors
If you observe a hawk perched high up in a tree near a body of water, it’s likely a Red-shouldered Hawk. These hawks occupy deciduous and mixed forests near bodies of water, and their distinctive kee-ahh call can often be heard in these areas.
Red-shouldered Hawks prey on a variety of animals, including small mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. During the breeding season, they build their nests in trees near water and aggressively defend their territory from intruders.
Cooper’s Hawks, on the other hand, prefer to wait and listen for prey in mature forests. They are expert flyers and use their aerial skills to chase prey through trees and branches.
Like Red-shouldered Hawks, Cooper’s Hawks have a varied diet that includes smaller birds, but they also prey on squirrels and rabbits.
These hawks are year-round residents of Alabama and can be seen throughout the state. Some Cooper’s Hawks migrate short distances during the winter, but others remain in their territories all year round.
Take a closer look at hawks’ physical characteristics to see how they differ from one another. Each species of hawk has distinct appearance features that set them apart from the rest.
For instance, Red-shouldered Hawks have a reddish-brown plumage on their upper backs and chests, and translucent crescents near their wingtips.
Meanwhile, Red-tailed Hawks have a dark brown back with a lighter belly, and bright pale, streaked undersides. Cooper’s Hawks have orange-red eyes, while Sharp-shinned Hawks have blue-gray coloration with reddish streaking on their underparts.
Broad-winged Hawks have bold black and white bands on their tails, and Northern Harriers have long, rounded tails and faces that look similar to owls.
Understanding these physical characteristics can help in identifying the different hawk species found in Alabama.
Apart from their appearance, hawks also have unique hunting techniques. For instance, Cooper’s Hawks are expert flyers and use their aerial skills to chase prey through trees and branches.
Sharp-shinned Hawks, on the other hand, are more secretive in nature and tend to stay out of sight. Red-tailed Hawks favor open country and fields with high places to perch, while Red-shouldered Hawks occupy deciduous and mixed forests near bodies of water.
By understanding these hunting techniques, it’s possible to identify the different hawk species based on their behavior and habitat.