11 Types Of Hawks Found In Louisiana

Are you a birdwatching enthusiast looking to explore the fascinating world of hawks? Look no further than Louisiana, a state teeming with a diverse range of these majestic birds.

With its humid subtropical climate, Louisiana provides the perfect habitat for a variety of hawk species.

Get ready to embark on an exciting journey as we introduce you to the 11 types of hawks found in this remarkable state.

Key Takeaways

  • Louisiana is home to 11 species of hawks, including the smallest hawks in the US, the Sharp-Shinned Hawks, and the most common hawk species in North America, the Red-Tailed Hawks.
  • The state of Louisiana has a humid subtropical climate with hot summers and mild winters, making it an ideal habitat for hawks.
  • Louisiana is known for its storms in spring and summer, which can impact the behavior and migratory patterns of hawks.
  • With its rich cultural history and 21 state parks, Louisiana offers ample opportunities for outdoor activities like fishing, boating, hiking, and birdwatching, including observing the various species of hawks found in the state.

1. Sharp-Shinned Hawk

If you’re out birdwatching in Louisiana, keep an eye out for the sharp-shinned hawk, the smallest hawk species in the US, as it darts through the trees with lightning speed.

Measuring around 10 inches in length, this agile bird of prey possesses long, slim wings and a long tail, allowing it to maneuver swiftly through dense vegetation. Its upperparts are dark gray while its underparts are pale with fine, vertical barring.

The sharp-shinned hawk has short, hooked beaks and sharp, curved talons, which it uses to capture its prey, primarily small birds. This hawk species is known for its remarkable hunting skills, often ambushing its unsuspecting prey from concealed perches.

With its exceptional agility and keen eyesight, the sharp-shinned hawk is a fascinating sight to behold in the Louisiana wilderness.

Now, let’s dive into the world of the Coopers hawk and explore its unique characteristics.

2. Coopers Hawk

Residing in woodlands and residential areas, the Coopers hawk, with its small to medium size, blends seamlessly into its surroundings like a stealthy predator hidden amongst the trees. This hawk, known for its agility and speed, possesses certain characteristics that set it apart from other hawk species found in Louisiana:

  1. Plumage: The Coopers hawk exhibits a dark gray to blackish color on its upper body, while its underparts are pale with fine brown streaks. This plumage helps it camouflage effectively within the dense foliage of the woodlands.
  2. Hunting Techniques: With its sharp, curved beak and long, powerful talons, the Coopers hawk is a skilled hunter. It relies on surprise attacks, swiftly maneuvering through trees and shrubs, and ambushing prey such as small birds and mammals.
  3. Adaptability: The Coopers hawk has adapted well to living in urban and suburban areas, making use of tall trees and backyard bird feeders as hunting grounds.

Transitioning into the subsequent section about the ‘red-shouldered hawk,’ this species shares some similarities with the Coopers hawk, particularly in their preference for specific habitats and hunting techniques.

3. Red-Shouldered Hawk

Imagine yourself walking through the lush forests of Louisiana, when suddenly you catch a glimpse of a magnificent red-shouldered hawk gracefully soaring through the treetops. Its vibrant red barring on its breast catches your eye.

The red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus) is a medium-sized hawk known for its distinct coloration and preference for habitat near swamps and rivers. This species is characterized by its broad wings, short tail, and reddish-brown barring on its breast.

Red-shouldered hawks are skilled hunters, feeding on small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and occasionally small birds.

They build their nests in tree cavities and are known for their loud, piercing calls that can be heard echoing through the forests.

Now, let’s explore another fascinating hawk species found in Louisiana: the broad-winged hawk.

4. Broad-Winged Hawk

As you wander through the enchanting forests of Louisiana, a secret emissary of the sky reveals itself to you – the broad-winged hawk. It is a majestic creature with its medium-sized frame and captivating presence.

This migratory hawk is known for its distinctive shrill whistle-like call. It spends its winters in South America and returns to the forests of Louisiana during the breeding season.

With its broad, rounded wings and short, square tail, the broad-winged hawk effortlessly soars through the dense canopy. It is constantly searching for small mammals and reptiles to feast upon.

Nesting in tree cavities, this hawk forms monogamous pairs and fiercely protects its territory. The sight of a broad-winged hawk circling high above the treetops is a truly remarkable experience.

Transitioning to the next section, let’s now explore the larger and more imposing Swainson’s hawk.

5. Swainson’s Hawk

With its impressive size and majestic presence, the swainson’s hawk gracefully glides through the Louisiana sky, captivating all who catch a glimpse of its soaring beauty. This larger hawk species arrives in Louisiana in April, signaling the start of its breeding season.

Swainson’s hawks are known for their distinctive appearance, with a mix of brown and white plumage. They have a wingspan of around four feet and are often seen perched on tall trees or utility poles, scanning the ground below for prey.

These hawks primarily feed on small mammals, reptiles, and insects.

As the breeding season progresses, swainson’s hawks create large nests in trees, where they raise their young.

Now, let’s turn our attention to another common hawk species found in Louisiana, the red-tailed hawk.

6. Red-Tailed Hawk

The red-tailed hawk, a prevalent species in North America, can be easily identified by its distinct red tail feathers. Here are three key characteristics of the red-tailed hawk:

  1. Physical Appearance: The red-tailed hawk has a wingspan of around 4 feet and can weigh up to 3 pounds. Its body is covered in dark brown feathers, with a pale underside and a reddish-brown tail. The upper side of its wings also displays a reddish hue.
  2. Hunting Behavior: Red-tailed hawks are skilled hunters, using their sharp talons and hooked beaks to catch their prey. They primarily feed on small mammals like mice, rabbits, and squirrels, but they can also capture birds, reptiles, and amphibians.
  3. Habitat and Distribution: These hawks can be found throughout North America, including Louisiana. They inhabit a variety of environments, including forests, grasslands, and even urban areas. During the breeding season, they build large nests on tree branches or cliffs.

With their striking appearance and impressive hunting abilities, red-tailed hawks are a fascinating species to observe in the wild. As we transition to the next section on the rough-legged hawk, let’s explore another intriguing hawk species found in Louisiana.

7. Rough-Legged Hawk

Imagine spotting a rough-legged hawk soaring through the skies of Louisiana, its large wingspan and dark body with white markings making it a captivating sight.

These majestic hawks, known for their size and appearance, breed far north but some travel south for the winter, making Louisiana a potential destination.

Found in open areas, the rough-legged hawk is characterized by its thin wings and dark body with distinct white markings on its tail.

This species prefers to hunt from a perch or while hovering, using its acute vision to spot prey such as small mammals.

As we transition to the next section about the ferruginous hawk, it’s worth noting that these two species differ in habitat preference and physical characteristics.

8. Ferruginous Hawk

Envision the awe-inspiring sight of the ferruginous hawk gracefully gliding across the Louisiana skies, captivating hearts with its majestic presence and vibrant, pastel-colored wings.

With a wingspan ranging from 133 to 142 centimeters and weighing between 977 and 2074 grams, these hawks are known for their large white heads, red-orange colored feathered legs, and strikingly beautiful appearance.

During late autumn, winter, and early spring, they can be observed in southwestern Louisiana, particularly near grasslands, shrublands, and the edges of forests.

Ferruginous hawks typically reside in smaller forests or open country, constructing their nests in large, sturdy structures. To attract mates during the breeding season, they emit distinct calls while gracefully circling above their nesting sites.

Now, let’s shift our focus to the intriguing northern harrier, another fascinating hawk species found in Louisiana.

9. Northern Harrier

Get ready to be captivated by the incredible presence of the northern harrier, a fascinating hawk species that can be found soaring through the skies of Louisiana. This medium-sized hawk possesses thin, broad wings and a long tail, making it a graceful flyer.

Here are three intriguing facts about the northern harrier:

  1. Unique Coloration: Males of this species have a neutral grayish color, while females and juveniles display brown and streaky feathers. This distinct coloration allows them to blend into their natural habitats, such as fields and marshes, where they prefer to live and hunt.
  2. Vocal Communication: The male northern harrier produces a rapidfire ‘kek-kek’ sound, creating a distinctive soundscape in the marshlands. On the other hand, females emit high octave whistles, adding to the auditory richness of their surroundings.
  3. Breeding Season: Northern harriers breed from April to September, when they construct nests made from various materials. During this time, their aerial acrobatics and courtship displays are a sight to behold.

As we transition into the next section about Harris’s hawk, prepare to explore another magnificent hawk species that will leave you in awe.

10. Harris’s Hawk

Prepare to be amazed by the majestic presence of the Harris’s hawk, a captivating hawk species that will soar through your imagination like a regal ruler of the Louisiana skies.

With a wingspan of 110cm and weighing 700g, this brown-feathered hawk boasts bright colored shoulders and distinctive white marks on its tail.

Building nests from various materials, the Harris’s hawk emits scratchy sounding calls that add to its unique allure.

Found in southwestern Louisiana, this species prefers habitat near open prairies. As occasional visitors to the state, their appearances are highly anticipated by bird enthusiasts.

Now, let’s shift our focus to another remarkable hawk species, the white-tailed hawk, which occasionally graces the southwestern Louisiana region with its broad, dark, pointed wings and chestnut patch on its shoulders.

11. White-Tailed Hawk

As you explore the captivating skies of southwestern Louisiana, let the broad, dark, pointed wings and chestnut patch on the shoulders of the white-tailed hawk guide you towards the enchanting open prairies.

The white-tailed hawk, with a wingspan of 130cm and weighing around 1kg, is occasionally spotted in this region. It is characterized by its white tail with a dark band and its broad, dark, pointed wings. This hawk prefers habitats near open prairies, where it can soar gracefully in search of its prey.

Unlike other hawks found in Louisiana, the white-tailed hawk is not a permanent resident and is considered an occasional visitor.

Its occasional presence adds to the diversity of bird species in the area and offers birdwatchers a unique opportunity to observe this majestic bird in action.

So, keep your eyes peeled and your binoculars ready as you explore the beautiful landscapes of southwestern Louisiana.

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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