Table of Contents
Are you a fan of bird watching and nature exploration? If so, Arkansas is the perfect destination for you. With nine common species of hawks and one rare/accidental species, Arkansas is a haven for hawk enthusiasts.
These majestic hunters can be found throughout the state, from the most frequently spotted Red-tailed Hawk to the elusive Northern Goshawk.
In this guide, we’ll provide you with all the information you need to identify and spot these remarkable birds in their natural habitats.
From their distinctive physical features to their unique behaviors and habits, you’ll gain a comprehensive understanding of each species.
So grab your binoculars and get ready to embark on a thrilling adventure as we take you through Arkansas’ 10 Hawks: A Guide to Spotting These Majestic Hunters!
- There are 10 species of hawks in Arkansas, with 9 being regularly occurring and 1 considered rare/accidental, and they can be found in various habitats and have a diet consisting of birds, small mammals, snakes, frogs, and young turtles.
- The Red-tailed Hawk is the most frequently spotted hawk in Arkansas, while Swainson’s Hawk and Northern Goshawk are rarely recorded in the state in both summer and winter.
- Hawks can see ultraviolet light to help them hunt down prey, and they nest in high places such as tall trees, cliff ledges, tall buildings, or towers.
- The behavior of hawks varies depending on the species, with some being resident in certain areas while others migrate south for the winter, and the frequency of their sightings in Arkansas also varies depending on the season.
You can easily identify the 10 species of hawks in Arkansas by their distinctive markings and behaviors. Hawk watching is a popular activity in the state, and birding techniques can help you spot these majestic hunters.
The Red-tailed Hawk is the most frequently spotted in Arkansas, and can be identified by its short, wide red tail and large size with broad, rounded wings.
The Red-shouldered Hawk is also distinctly marked, and is medium-sized. The Northern Harrier, on the other hand, is slender with long broad wings and is only seen in Arkansas during winter.
The Coopers Hawk is a resident all year round, but is more frequently spotted in the winter.
The Sharp-shinned Hawk is not that common in Arkansas, but can be seen mostly in the central part of the state during winter. The Broad-winged Hawk is pretty rare in Arkansas, and is only spotted during summer in national forests.
The Swainson’s Hawk is rare in Arkansas, but can be identified by its long wings, short tails, and pointed wingtips.
It migrates to South America in large flocks, and hunts for rodents by perching on high points. It can lay up to 8 eggs in a nest made of twigs and sticks.
The Rough-legged Hawk is rare in Arkansas, and has feathered legs to keep warm in the arctic. It breeds in Alaska and northern Canada before migrating to the US for winter, and lays 3-5 pale bluish-white eggs on a high cliff ledge.
The Ferruginous Hawk is considered an accidental species in Arkansas, and is the largest hawk in North America. It lives in open country, and eats small mammals, jackrabbits, and cottontail rabbits. It prepares up to eight nests and lays between 2-4 bluish-white eggs.
The Northern Goshawk is extremely rare in Arkansas, mostly gray with short, broad wings and a long tail, and lives in large forests. It mostly eats medium-sized birds and small mammals.
To spot these hawks, it’s important to use birding techniques such as listening for calls and observing behaviors. Red-tailed Hawks, for example, can often be spotted perched on telephone poles or soaring high in the sky.
Red-shouldered Hawks are often heard before they are seen, emitting a loud, distinctive call. Northern Harriers can be seen flying low over fields and marshes, while Coopers Hawks are often seen perched in trees near bird feeders.
Sharp-shinned Hawks can be identified by their small size and long, narrow wings, and are often seen darting through trees in pursuit of prey.
Broad-winged Hawks are more commonly heard than seen, emitting a distinctive whistle-like call. Swainson’s Hawks can be seen soaring high in the sky in large, graceful circles.
Rough-legged Hawks can often be spotted perched on high cliff ledges, while Ferruginous Hawks are often seen soaring low over open fields.
Finally, Northern Goshawks can be identified by their large size, distinctive markings, and powerful flight.
By using these birding techniques and paying close attention to their distinctive markings and behaviors, you can easily identify the 10 species of hawks in Arkansas.
[Related Post: 10 Types Of Butterflies In Arkansas]
Behavior and Habits
When hunting prey, hawks rely on their ability to see ultraviolet light. This unique trait allows them to spot their prey from a distance, even when they’re hidden in foliage.
Once they’ve located their target, hawks use their sharp talons and powerful beaks to catch and kill their prey.
After a successful hunt, hawks bring their meal back to their nest. Their nests are usually located high in tall trees, cliff ledges, tall buildings, or towers.
Hawks are known for their impressive nesting preferences and will often return to the same location year after year to raise their young.
Migration patterns are another important aspect of hawk behavior. Red-tailed Hawks remain resident in the US and Mexico, but those in Alaska, Canada, and the northern Great Plains fly south for winter.
Red-shouldered Hawks are resident in eastern states, but those in the Northeast may migrate further south for winter.
Northern Harriers that breed in Alaska, Canada, the northern Great Plains, and the Northeast migrate south for winter to southern states, Mexico, and Central America.
Coopers Hawks remain resident over most of the US, but some in the north of their range, including Canada, migrate south for winter as far as Mexico and Honduras.
Understanding these migration patterns can help bird watchers and hawk enthusiasts plan their sightings and learn more about these majestic birds.
Checklist for Arkansas
To easily identify and keep track of the different species of hawks in the area, use the checklist provided for spotting them in Arkansas.
This checklist shows which hawks are commonly recorded in Arkansas during summer and winter, making it a useful tool for birdwatchers and conservationists alike.
Here are three things to keep in mind when using the checklist:
- Red-tailed Hawks and Red-shouldered Hawks are the most commonly recorded hawks in Arkansas in both summer and winter. Keep an eye out for these majestic birds of prey, as they’re easily spotted and can be found in a variety of habitats.
- Coopers Hawks and Sharp-shinned Hawks are more commonly recorded in Arkansas in winter than in summer. Look for these smaller hawks in wooded areas, where they hunt for small birds and mammals.
- Northern Harriers and Rough-legged Hawks are more commonly recorded in Arkansas in winter than in summer. These birds of prey are often seen flying low over open fields and marshes, so keep an eye out for them during the colder months.
Knowing what species of hawks to look for in Arkansas can make your birdwatching experience more enjoyable and informative.
By using the checklist provided, you can easily spot these majestic hunters and contribute to conservation efforts in the area by reporting your sightings to local organizations.
Keep an eye out for these birds of prey in birdwatching hotspots such as national forests and high ridges, and remember to respect their habitats and observe them from a safe distance.