13 Types Of Hawks In Idaho

If you’re a bird enthusiast or simply love the beauty of nature, Idaho is the perfect destination for you. The state is home to an impressive variety of hawks, each with its unique characteristics and habits.

From the majestic Bald Eagle to the fierce Northern Goshawk, Idaho offers a diverse range of hawk species that are sure to captivate your attention and leave you in awe.

Key Takeaways

  • Idaho is home to a diverse range of hawks, including the Red-tailed Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Northern Goshawk, Swainson’s Hawk, Ferruginous Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk, and Golden Eagle.
  • Conservation efforts, such as the Endangered Species Act and Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, have helped increase the population of certain hawk species, such as the Bald Eagle.
  • Hawks play a significant role in Idaho’s natural world, with each species having its own hunting skills and adaptability, making them important for understanding the ecosystem.
  • Appreciating and conserving habitats and species ensures their thriving for generations to come.

1. Red-tailed Hawk

The Red-tailed Hawk, with its striking reddish-brown tail, is one of the most common and iconic raptors found in Idaho. These birds prefer open habitats such as grasslands, deserts, and farmland, but can also be found in forested areas.

They’re opportunistic predators and hunt a variety of prey including rodents, rabbits, snakes, and birds. Red-tailed Hawks are known for their distinctive vocalizations, which include a high-pitched scream and a raspy, descending call.

They’re also known for their courtship displays, which involve aerial acrobatics such as swooping and diving.

Red-tailed Hawks mate for life and typically build their nests in tall trees or on cliff ledges. Overall, these hawks are fascinating creatures with interesting behavior patterns and habitat preferences that make them a unique part of Idaho’s ecosystem.

[Related Post: 10 Types Of Butterflies In Idaho]

2. Cooper’s Hawk

You’ll love spotting a Cooper’s hawk in the wild with its distinctive dark cap and reddish breast. These birds are medium-sized hawks that can be found in a variety of habitats, including forests, woodlands, and suburban areas.

Here are some interesting facts about Cooper’s hawks:

  • They’re known for their agile flight and quick movements, making them skilled hunters.
  • They’re known for their unique hunting strategy, where they surprise their prey by flying low to the ground and suddenly accelerating to catch their prey off-guard.
  • Their diet consists mostly of birds, but they also eat small mammals and reptiles.
  • They’re known to be territorial and will defend their hunting grounds aggressively.
  • They’re also known for their elaborate courtship displays, which involve aerial acrobatics and vocalizations.

In terms of habitat preferences, Cooper’s hawks can be found in a range of environments, including deciduous and coniferous forests, as well as suburban areas with plenty of trees for nesting and hunting.

They’re known for their adaptability and can thrive in both rural and urban environments.

Overall, Cooper’s hawks are fascinating birds to observe in the wild, with their unique hunting strategies and acrobatic displays.

3. Sharp-shinned Hawk

Get ready to spot a Sharp-shinned hawk with its small size and quick movements, making it a skilled hunter. This species is commonly found in Idaho’s forests, but can also be spotted in urban areas.

Sharp-shinned hawks prefer habitats with dense cover, such as coniferous or deciduous forests, where they can hide from predators and hunt small birds and mammals.

The sharp-shinned hawk’s hunting behavior is characterized by its agility and speed. It’s known for its quick and precise movements, which allow it to catch its prey mid-flight.

Sharp-shinned hawks have a hunting technique called ‘still-hunting.’ They perch in a hidden spot and wait for their prey to come within striking distance. They also use surprise attacks to catch their prey off guard.

Understanding the sharp-shinned hawk’s habitat preferences and hunting behavior can help birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts spot this fascinating bird in action.

4. Northern Goshawk

Spotting a Northern Goshawk can be a thrilling experience, as they’re known for their impressive size and fierce hunting abilities.

These hawks are the largest members of the Accipiter genus in North America, with a wingspan of up to four feet and a weight of up to three pounds. They have a distinctive appearance, with broad, rounded wings and a long, squared-off tail.

Northern Goshawks are found in a variety of habitats, including coniferous forests, aspen stands, and even open grasslands. They prefer areas with mature trees for nesting and hunting, but will also use younger stands for nesting.

Breeding behavior of Northern Goshawks is fascinating to observe. They’re monogamous birds, meaning they mate with one partner for life. They’re also territorial during breeding season, defending their nesting sites from other birds of prey.

Nests are typically constructed in the crotch of a tree and made of sticks and lined with softer materials such as moss and lichen. The female lays two to four eggs, and both parents take turns incubating them for around 30 days.

Once the chicks hatch, they’re fed a diet of small mammals, birds, and even other raptors.

Northern Goshawks are also known for their aggressive behavior, often attacking potential threats to their young, including humans.

5. Swainson’s Hawk

If you’re lucky enough to witness a Swainson’s Hawk in flight, you’ll be struck by their graceful and effortless soaring ability. These hawks can be identified by their brown and white plumage, with a distinctive dark bib on their chest.

Swainson’s Hawks are a migratory species, spending their summers in North America and then flying south to spend the winter in Argentina.

They are known to travel over 6,000 miles during their migration, making them one of the longest migratory hawks in the world.

Sadly, Swainson’s Hawks have faced population declines due to habitat loss and pesticide use. In response, conservation efforts have been put in place to protect their breeding and wintering grounds.

Additionally, efforts have been made to reduce the use of pesticides, which can poison the hawks when they eat contaminated prey.

These conservation efforts have helped to stabilize the Swainson’s Hawk population, but continued efforts are necessary to ensure their survival.

9. Ferruginous Hawk

You’ll love watching the Ferruginous Hawk soar through the sky with its beautiful rust-colored feathers and impressive wingspan.

This bird of prey is one of the largest hawks in North America, measuring up to 2.5 feet in length and having a wingspan of up to 4.5 feet.

The Ferruginous Hawk is mostly found in open grasslands and prairies, making it a common sight in Idaho’s southern regions. When it comes to their diet, the Ferruginous Hawk is a fierce hunter.

Here are three interesting facts about their eating habits:

  1. They primarily hunt small mammals like ground squirrels, rabbits, and prairie dogs.
  2. They also feed on reptiles, birds, and insects when available.
  3. Ferruginous Hawks are known to hunt in pairs, with one bird flushing out prey while the other swoops in for the kill.

Their habitat and hunting skills make them an important part of Idaho’s ecosystem, and they’re a fascinating bird to watch in action.

10. Rough-legged Hawk

As you’re exploring the vast open spaces of the American West, keep an eye out for the majestic Rough-legged Hawk.

This bird of prey is known for its characteristic feathered legs and feet, which keep it warm in the harsh winter climates of its breeding grounds in the Arctic tundra.

During the summer months, it migrates south to breed in the boreal forests of Canada and Alaska. The Rough-legged Hawk is a monogamous bird, with pairs often staying together for multiple breeding seasons.

They build their nests on cliffs or in trees, and lay 2-4 eggs per clutch. Their diet consists mainly of small mammals, such as voles and lemmings, which they hunt by soaring and hovering over open fields and grasslands.

Keep an eye out for this impressive bird of prey as you explore the vast wilderness of Idaho.

11. Golden Eagle

Get ready to be in awe of the powerful Golden Eagle, known for its impressive hunting skills and majestic appearance. This bird of prey can be found in a variety of habitats throughout Idaho, including mountainous regions, grasslands, and even wetlands.

However, they prefer open areas with scattered trees for perching and nesting.

Golden Eagles are also known for their impressive wingspan, which can reach up to 7 feet, making them one of the largest raptors in North America.

They are also known for their impressive migration patterns. In Idaho, they typically migrate to their breeding grounds in the north during the spring and summer months, and then migrate south during the fall and winter.

During migration, they often use thermals to conserve energy as they soar through the sky.

Despite their impressive size and strength, Golden Eagles are also vulnerable to habitat loss and human disturbance, making it important to protect their habitats and limit human impact on their populations.

12. Bald Eagle

Now that we’ve learned about the majestic Golden Eagle, let’s shift our focus to the equally impressive Bald Eagle. As you may know, the Bald Eagle is the national bird and symbol of the United States.

This bird of prey can be found in various locations across the country, including Idaho. Bald Eagles prefer to make their homes near large bodies of water, such as rivers, lakes, and marshes.

In Idaho, you can find them nesting in places like the Snake River and the reservoirs of the Boise River system. However, their habitat has been threatened due to human activity such as logging, development, and pollution.

Conservation efforts have been put in place to protect these magnificent birds, including the Endangered Species Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Thanks to these efforts, the Bald Eagle population has increased in recent years.

Bald Eagles mate for life and return to the same nest each year. Their nests can weigh up to a ton and are typically built in tall trees. Bald Eagles have a wingspan of up to 7 feet and can fly at speeds of up to 40 mph.

They are known for their distinctive white head and tail feathers, which they develop when they are around 4-5 years old.

The Bald Eagle is a remarkable bird that holds significant cultural and ecological importance. As we continue to strive towards protecting and preserving our natural world, it is crucial to recognize the importance of conserving habitats and species such as the Bald Eagle.

By doing so, we can ensure that these magnificent creatures continue to thrive for generations to come.

13. Prairie Falcon

Imagine soaring through the skies with a Prairie Falcon, one of the most agile and skilled hunters in the bird world. These birds are known for their incredible hunting techniques and lightning-fast speed.

Prairie Falcons are found primarily in the western United States, including Idaho, where they can be spotted in open grasslands, deserts, and agricultural areas.

Prairie Falcons are known for their unique hunting behaviors. They use their incredible speed and agility to catch prey on the ground. They are also skilled at catching birds in mid-air, using their sharp talons to grasp their prey.

The habitat of Prairie Falcons typically consists of open areas with plenty of prey, such as ground squirrels, hares, and various species of birds.

If you’re lucky enough to spot a Prairie Falcon in Idaho, take a moment to appreciate their incredible hunting skills and adaptability to various environments.

Brian Koller

Growing up on a farm in eastern PA, I’ve grown fond of wildlife and the woods and learning about the critters and firewood and everything else in-between. I made this site to share my experiences and knowledge.

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