10 Types Of Hawks In North Carolina

If you’re a bird watcher in North Carolina, you’re in luck! The state is home to a diverse population of hawks, ranging from the majestic Bald Eagle to the elusive Northern Goshawk.

Hawks are a type of bird of prey, known for their sharp talons and keen vision. They are often seen soaring high in the sky, searching for their next meal.

North Carolina’s diverse landscape, which includes mountains, forests, and coastal areas, provides an ideal habitat for many different types of hawks.

Whether you’re a seasoned bird watcher or just starting out, learning about these fascinating creatures is sure to be an exciting experience.

In this article, we’ll introduce you to 10 different types of hawks that call North Carolina home. So let’s dive in and discover the 10 types of hawks you may encounter in North Carolina.

Key Takeaways

  • North Carolina provides an ideal habitat for a diverse population of hawks.
  • There are 8 common types of hawks in North Carolina, each with unique characteristics, habitats, and prey.
  • Some hawks, like the Northern Goshawk and Broad-winged Hawk, prefer forested areas, while others, like the Red-tailed Hawk and Cooper’s Hawk, are commonly found in open habitats.
  • The Ferruginous Hawk is one of the largest hawk species in North America and is considered threatened in some parts of its range due to habitat loss.

1. Red-tailed Hawk

You’ll love spotting the Red-tailed Hawk in North Carolina with its distinctive reddish-brown tail and piercing gaze that makes it a formidable predator in the sky.

This hawk is a common sight in the state, as it prefers open habitats such as fields, meadows, and deserts. However, it can also be found in forests, along rivers, and in urban areas.

The Red-tailed Hawk’s diet consists of small mammals such as rabbits, squirrels, and rodents, as well as birds, reptiles, and amphibians. During the winter months, it may hunt in groups, using strategic tactics to capture prey.

In terms of migration patterns, Red-tailed Hawks are generally non-migratory, but some individuals may move southward in the winter.

Overall, the Red-tailed Hawk is a fascinating species that’s worth observing in North Carolina’s diverse natural landscapes.

2. Cooper’s Hawk

Don’t miss out on learning about the fierce and fascinating Cooper’s Hawk.

These birds of prey can be found in North Carolina’s forests, woodlands, and suburban areas. They are known for their agility and speed, making them excellent hunters of small birds and mammals.

Cooper’s Hawks are known to be territorial birds, often defending their nesting areas against other birds and predators. They build their nests in trees, using sticks and twigs.

During the breeding season, they are known to be monogamous, and both parents take care of their young.

Unfortunately, like many other birds of prey, Cooper’s Hawks have faced habitat loss and persecution. Conservation efforts have been made to protect their habitats and reduce the use of harmful pesticides that can affect their populations.

It’s essential to continue these efforts to ensure the survival of this magnificent species.

3. Northern Goshawk

Get ready to be captivated by the fierce and powerful Northern Goshawk, a bird of prey that can be found in various habitats throughout the Northern Hemisphere.

These birds prefer to live in mature forests with open understories, where they can hunt for prey such as squirrels, rabbits, and birds.

They are also known to inhabit mountainous regions, where they can use the rugged terrain to their advantage in hunting. Breeding behavior of Northern Goshawks differs depending on their location.

In North America, they typically breed in the spring and summer months, building large nests made of sticks and twigs high up in trees. The female will lay between 1-4 eggs, which she will incubate for around a month.

Once the chicks hatch, both parents will work together to provide food and protection until the chicks fledge, which usually takes around 5-6 weeks.

Overall, the Northern Goshawk is a fascinating and powerful bird, with unique habitat preferences and breeding behavior.

4. Sharp-shinned Hawk

The Sharp-shinned Hawk is often mistaken for its larger counterpart, the Cooper’s Hawk. This species is a skilled and agile hunter that preys on small birds and mammals. It is found throughout North Carolina, particularly in forests and wooded areas.

Sharp-shinned Hawks prefer to nest in coniferous trees but will also utilize deciduous trees if necessary. When hunting, they use their speed and maneuverability to catch prey in flight or on the ground.

They are known for their quick and sudden attacks, often surprising their prey with their swift movements.

These hawks can also hover in place, which allows them to observe their surroundings and choose the best target. Overall, the Sharp-shinned Hawk is a fascinating bird that plays an important role in North Carolina’s ecosystem as a predator of small animals.

5. Broad-winged Hawk

With its distinctive reddish-brown coloring and piercing call, the Broad-winged Hawk is a striking sight soaring through the forest canopy.

These raptors can be found throughout North and South America, but they’re most commonly spotted in the eastern half of the United States, including North Carolina.

Broad-winged Hawks are primarily forest-dwelling birds, and they prefer mature deciduous woodlands with open understories. They feed on a variety of prey, including small mammals like mice and voles, as well as reptiles, amphibians, and insects.

During migration, they’re known to gather in large groups, or kettles, which can number in the thousands.

These birds are a vital part of the ecosystem, and their presence in North Carolina is a reminder of the importance of preserving our forests and natural habitats.

6. Swainson’s Hawk

You’ll love seeing the Swainson’s Hawk in action, with its impressive wingspan and unique migration patterns. This bird of prey can be found in various parts of North America, including North Carolina.

The Swainson’s Hawk has a wingspan that can reach up to 4.5 feet, making it one of the larger hawks in the region.

The Swainson’s Hawk is known for its impressive migration patterns, which take it from breeding grounds in North America to wintering areas in South America. During migration, these hawks can travel up to 14,000 miles round trip.

In terms of breeding habits, the Swainson’s Hawk typically nests in trees or on cliffs, and can lay up to three eggs at a time. These eggs take around 30 days to hatch, and the young hawks will remain in the nest for a few weeks before they start to fly.

With its unique migration patterns and impressive size, the Swainson’s Hawk is a fascinating bird to observe in the wild.

7. Rough-legged Hawk

Now that you’ve learned about the Swainson’s Hawk, let’s turn our attention to another fascinating species of hawk found in North Carolina: the Rough-legged Hawk.

This bird of prey is known for its unique physical characteristics and habitat preferences, making it a favorite among bird watchers and conservationists alike.

The Rough-legged Hawk, also known as the Rough-legged Buzzard, is a medium-sized bird with a wingspan of up to 55 inches. It has a distinctive white tail with a dark band near the tip, and its head and neck are often pale in color.

One of the most striking features of this hawk is its feathered legs, which help to keep it warm in its preferred cold-weather habitats.

Speaking of habitat, the Rough-legged Hawk is known to prefer open areas such as prairies, tundra, and marshes. During the winter months, it can often be found in North Carolina’s coastal plain and the surrounding areas, where it feeds on small mammals such as rodents and rabbits.

Overall, the Rough-legged Hawk is truly a remarkable bird, and one that is worth observing in its natural habitat.

8. Ferruginous Hawk

The Ferruginous Hawk is a majestic bird of prey that can be found in the western regions of the United States. This species is known for its large size and striking appearance, with a wingspan that can reach up to four feet and a distinctive rusty red coloration on its back and shoulders.

Here are a few key facts about the Ferruginous Hawk that you might find interesting:

  • Ferruginous Hawks are one of the largest species of hawk in North America, second only to the Golden Eagle.
  • These birds are known for their aggressive hunting behavior, and they’ll often attack prey that is much larger than themselves.
  • Ferruginous Hawks prefer to nest in open grasslands and prairies, but they can also be found in desert and semi-arid regions.
  • Due to habitat loss and other factors, the Ferruginous Hawk is considered a threatened species in some parts of its range.

When it comes to behavior, the Ferruginous Hawk is a skilled hunter that relies on its sharp vision and powerful talons to capture prey. These birds typically hunt during the day and will target a variety of small mammals, birds, and reptiles. Ferruginous Hawks are also known for their impressive aerial acrobatics and can often be seen soaring high in the sky as they search for food.

In terms of habitat preferences, the Ferruginous Hawk is typically found in open areas with sparse vegetation. These birds prefer grasslands and prairies, but they can also be found in desert and semi-arid regions.

When nesting, Ferruginous Hawks will typically build their nests on the ground, either on a rocky outcropping or in a small depression in the earth.

Overall, the Ferruginous Hawk is a fascinating and impressive bird that’s well worth learning more about.

9. Red-shouldered Hawk

If you’re lucky enough to spot one, you might recognize the Red-shouldered Hawk by its distinctive reddish-brown feathers and piercing call.

This medium-sized hawk can be found in a variety of habitats throughout North Carolina, including forests, swamps, and wetlands.

Red-shouldered Hawks have a preference for areas with a mix of open spaces and trees, which allows them to hunt for prey both on the ground and in the air.

When it comes to diet and hunting behaviors, Red-shouldered Hawks are opportunistic predators that feed on a variety of prey, including snakes, rodents, frogs, and small birds.

They are also known to hunt larger prey, such as rabbits and squirrels, by swooping down from a perch or soaring high above the ground.

Red-shouldered Hawks are skilled hunters that use their keen eyesight and powerful talons to capture their prey. Overall, these hawks are an important part of North Carolina’s ecosystem, playing a vital role in maintaining a healthy balance of predator and prey species.

10. Bald Eagle

You’ll be amazed by the majestic presence of the Bald Eagle, with its striking white head and fierce gaze, soaring high above you in the sky.

This bird of prey is a symbol of strength and freedom, and it’s no wonder that it is one of the most recognizable and beloved birds in North Carolina.

However, the Bald Eagle was once on the brink of extinction due to habitat loss, hunting, and pesticide use. Thanks to conservation efforts and habitat preservation, the Bald Eagle population has rebounded in North Carolina and across the United States.

In fact, the Bald Eagle was removed from the endangered species list in 2007, a testament to the success of conservation efforts.

But the work is not done yet. The Bald Eagle still faces threats from habitat loss and climate change, and it is important to continue efforts to protect their habitats and ensure their survival for future generations to enjoy.

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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