10 Types Of Hawks In New York

If you’re a bird enthusiast in New York, chances are you’ve spotted a hawk soaring in the sky. These majestic birds of prey are a common sight in the state, and there are 10 different types that call New York home.

Key Takeaways

  • Red-tailed hawks are the most well-known and adaptable hawks in New York, and they primarily eat small mammals like rodents and squirrels.
  • Cooper’s hawks and sharp-shinned hawks are smaller and can be mistaken for each other, with Cooper’s hawks primarily preying on other birds.
  • Peregrine falcons are the fastest birds in the world, and they have unique breeding behavior.
  • Northern harriers have a distinctive white rump patch and hunt by flying low, and they typically breed in open habitats like marshes and grasslands.

1. Red-tailed Hawk

You’ll love watching the Red-tailed Hawk soar through the sky with its impressive wingspan of up to 4 feet! These hawks are commonly found in New York and are one of the most recognizable birds of prey.

Red-tailed Hawks are adaptable and can be found in a variety of habitats, including forests, grasslands, and deserts. They prefer areas with open fields or meadows, where they can hunt for their prey.

The diet of Red-tailed Hawks primarily consists of small mammals such as rodents, rabbits, and squirrels. They’re also known to eat birds, snakes, and even insects.

These hawks are skilled hunters and use their sharp talons to capture their prey.

During migration, Red-tailed Hawks can be seen flying in large groups or ‘kettles’ as they make their way south for the winter. They can travel up to 300 miles a day and can cover thousands of miles during their migration.

2. Cooper’s Hawk

Hey, have you seen the Cooper’s Hawk flying around lately? It’s such a magnificent sight!

This hawk is a medium-sized bird of prey that is commonly found in New York. It’s known for its agility and speed, making it a skilled hunter. When it comes to habitat preferences, the Cooper’s Hawk can be found in a variety of environments, including forests, woodlands, and even urban areas.

They’re adaptable birds that can thrive in both rural and urban settings.

As for their hunting behaviors, they primarily prey on other birds, such as doves, pigeons, and songbirds. They’re capable of capturing their prey in mid-air, making them a formidable predator.

The Cooper’s Hawk is a remarkable bird that is well-suited for life in New York. Its ability to adapt to different environments and its skilled hunting abilities make it a fascinating species to observe. So, next time you’re out and about, keep an eye out for this magnificent bird of prey!

3. Sharp-shinned Hawk

If you spot a small hawk darting through the trees at lightning speed, it’s likely the sharp-shinned hawk. This bird of prey is known for its agility and quick movements as it hunts for small birds and mammals.

The sharp-shinned hawk is a relatively small bird, measuring around 9-14 inches in length, with a wingspan of 17-22 inches. It is often mistaken for the Cooper’s hawk, but can be identified by its smaller size and squared-off tail.

The sharp-shinned hawk is a solitary bird, and can be found in a variety of habitats, including forests, woodlands, and suburban areas. It is known for its sharp-shinned hawk behavior, which includes fast, low-level flights and sudden turns as it hunts for prey.

In terms of nesting habits, the sharp-shinned hawk usually builds its nest in trees, using sticks and twigs to create a platform. The female lays around 3-7 eggs, which she incubates for around 30 days.

The young are fledged at around 4 weeks old, and will remain with the parents for a few more weeks before leaving the nest.

4. Peregrine Falcon

The peregrine falcon is a majestic bird of prey, known for its incredible speed and aerial hunting skills. It is one of the fastest birds in the world, capable of reaching speeds of up to 240 miles per hour when diving to catch its prey.

The peregrine falcon has a distinctive appearance, with a blue-gray back, white underparts, and black stripes on its face. It is commonly found in the New York region, especially near the coast.

Peregrine falcons have a unique breeding behavior that sets them apart from other birds of prey.

They mate for life and typically lay three to four eggs in a nest located on a high cliff or building. The male and female take turns incubating the eggs for about a month before they hatch.

After the chicks hatch, both parents work together to feed and protect them until they are ready to fledge. Peregrine falcons also have a fascinating migration pattern, with some birds traveling thousands of miles each year to their wintering grounds.

They’re truly remarkable birds and a true asset to the ecosystem of New York.

5. Northern Harrier

The Northern Harrier, also known as the marsh hawk, is a bird of prey that can be found in a variety of habitats across North America. These habitats include marshes, grasslands, and agricultural fields.

Here are some interesting facts about the Northern Harrier:

  1. Breeding habits: Northern Harriers typically breed in open habitats such as marshes and grasslands. They build their nests on the ground, often hidden in tall vegetation. Females lay 4-5 eggs per clutch and both parents take turns incubating the eggs. Once hatched, the chicks are fed by both parents.
  2. Hunting techniques: Northern Harriers are unique among hawks in that they hunt by flying low over the ground, relying on their keen eyesight and hearing to detect prey. They can hover in place for extended periods of time, waiting for prey to reveal itself. Their diet consists of small mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects.

Overall, the Northern Harrier is a fascinating bird of prey with unique breeding habits and hunting techniques. Keep an eye out for this marsh hawk next time you’re in a grassland or marsh habitat.

6. American Kestrel

You’re going to love learning about the American Kestrel, a small but mighty falcon found throughout North America. With a wingspan of only 20 inches, this bird of prey is one of the smallest hawks in New York.

Despite its size, the American Kestrel is a fierce hunter, preying on small mammals, insects, and reptiles. One interesting aspect of the American Kestrel is its behavioral patterns.

Unlike other hawks, this bird is known to hover in mid-air before swooping down to catch its prey. It also has the ability to fly backwards, which is a rare trait among birds.

In terms of nesting habits, the American Kestrel is known to use cavities in trees or buildings to build its nests. However, it will also use nest boxes that are specifically designed for this species.

Overall, the American Kestrel is a fascinating bird that is worth learning more about if you’re interested in the hawks of New York.

7. Broad-winged Hawk

Get ready to discover the fascinating world of the Broad-winged Hawk, a bird of prey that has a unique migration pattern and an impressive hunting strategy.

The Broad-winged Hawk is a small but powerful raptor that can be found in the eastern part of North America.

It has a brownish-black color on its back, wings, and tail, while its underparts are white with brown streaks. Its wings have broad and rounded tips, which is where the hawk gets its name.

The Broad-winged Hawk is known for its unique migration pattern, which is different from most other hawks. Instead of migrating alone or in small groups, this hawk forms large flocks of thousands of individuals. These flocks can be seen flying southward in the fall, and northward in the spring.

The hawk’s migration is so unique that it is celebrated every year at the Hawk Migration Association of North America’s festival in Pennsylvania.

In terms of habitat, the Broad-winged Hawk prefers to live in deciduous forests, where it can hunt for small mammals, birds, and reptiles. It is also known to inhabit pine and mixed forests, as well as swampy areas.

8. Rough-legged Hawk

Prepare to be amazed by the Rough-legged Hawk, a stunning bird of prey with a hunting technique that will leave you in awe.

This hawk is a true master of the skies, with the ability to soar for hours on end without flapping its wings. It’s a medium-sized hawk, with a wingspan of up to 55 inches and a weight of around 2 pounds.

The Rough-legged Hawk has a distinctive appearance, with a pale head, dark belly band, and feathered legs that give it its name.

When it comes to habitat preferences, the Rough-legged Hawk is a bird of the north. It breeds in the Arctic tundra and spends the winter in more southerly areas, including New York. This hawk can be found in a variety of habitats, including grasslands, marshes, and open woodlands.

As for hunting behaviors, the Rough-legged Hawk is a master of aerial hunting. It often hovers in the air, scanning the ground below for prey. Once it spots its target, the hawk will soar down towards the ground, using its talons to grasp and kill its prey.

With its breathtaking hunting tactics and stunning appearance, the Rough-legged Hawk is a true wonder of the bird world.

9. Osprey

If you were to observe the Osprey, also known as the fish hawk, you would notice its unique ability to dive into the water and catch fish with its sharp talons.

They are found near bodies of water such as rivers, lakes, and coastal areas, where they build large nests made of sticks and other materials. These nests can be up to six feet wide and can weigh up to 400 pounds.

Ospreys are migratory birds, and they can be found in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia.

During the breeding season, they can be found in the northern hemisphere, while in the winter, they migrate to the southern hemisphere.

They are one of the few raptors that can dive into the water to catch fish, and they have a unique hunting technique. They can adjust their wings and feet to dive into the water and catch fish with their sharp talons.

10. Bald Eagle

Now that we’ve learned about the Osprey, let’s turn our attention to another impressive bird of prey that calls New York home: the Bald Eagle.

You may already be familiar with this iconic bird, which has long been a symbol of strength and freedom in American culture. But did you know that the Bald Eagle was once on the brink of extinction due to habitat loss and hunting?

Thanks to conservation efforts, however, the Bald Eagle has made a remarkable comeback in recent decades. In fact, New York is now home to one of the largest populations of Bald Eagles in the Northeast.

If you’re interested in seeing these majestic birds up close, there are several eagle watching hotspots throughout the state, including the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, the Upper Delaware River, and the Hudson River Valley.

So whether you’re a seasoned birdwatcher or just looking for a unique outdoor experience, be sure to add Bald Eagle watching to your New York itinerary.

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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