Hawks, which are otherwise referred to as raptors, are birds of prey that exist in just about every corner of the world and have over 200 different species within their family.
As for the USA? Well, as it stands right now, it is generally considered that there are around 25 species of Hawk that predominate in US territory, and today we’re going to be focusing on all of the ones that reside in the Sunny state!
Even though Hawks are known to migrate, Florida is home to around 7 species of Hawks that spend most of their years living, hunting, and nesting across Florida’s four main regions: the uplands, the Florida Keys, the Everglades as well as the coastal plains.
Known for being highly adaptable birds, Hawks thrive across the Florida peninsula and are typically found near the springs, swamps, and marshes that make up much of Florida’s rural and populated areas.
Interestingly, even though all Hawks are agile birds of prey and skilled hunters, all of the Hawks that are found in Florida each come with their own unique characteristics and behaviors, and this guide is going to be taking an in-depth look into each of them!
Below, we’re going to be talking you through the most common species of Hawk that are deemed native to Florida, including the Red-Tailed Hawk, the Northern Harrier, the Sharp-shinned Hawk, the Broad-Winged Hawk, the Short-Tailed Hawk, and the Red-Shouldered hawk.
To give you a greater understanding of each hawk, you’ll find detailed descriptions of each Hawk that will cover a variety of features, including personality, habitat, appearance, and more.
So, no matter whether you’re planning on moving to Florida and want to be aware of the different types of wildlife you’re likely to encounter, or you’re simply interested in learning more about the Hawks native to Florida – this article will talk you through everything you need to know about Floridian Hawks. Ready? Let’s jump right in.
The Northern Harrier
- Typical Wingspan: 40.2 to 46.5 inches ( mainly depending on gender)
- Average Weight: Usually anywhere between 10 to around 27 ounces
- Average Length: From around 18 to 20 inches
Kicking off our list of Floridian Hawks, we have the Northern Harrier which, as we’re sure you can see from the photo above, has a very striking and distinctive appearance.
If you’re already familiar with the Northern Harrier, then we’re sure that you’ll already be well aware that it is (at the time of writing) the only harrier that currently resides in Northern America.
For that reason, it means that Northern Harriers can be found in a variety of different states, but they are typically found residing in Florida.
More often than not, the Northern Harrier Hawk is usually lean in appearance with a long tail and neck that makes this Hawk appear to be especially slim.
Their claws, perfect for catching prey on the ground or diving from the air, are yellow in appearance and strong enough to perch on trees for many hours, while the wings are long and can reach a maximum wingspan of up to 46 inches or more.
As for their feathers? The Northern Harrier Hawk males are typically known for their grayish-hued feathers with darker wings, while the Northern Harrier Hawk females are mainly characterized by a beautiful, golden-brown hued color pattern with a striking plumage full of lighter spots.
A bird of prey, the Northern Harrier has powerful wings that can carry them for many hours while circling the skies in search of prey, while their sharp, strong talons are designed to snatch up unsuspecting prey in a moment.
Interestingly, unlike other types of birds, the Northern Harrier will usually kill their prey by submerging them in water, which is why you can often spot this Hawk lurking across many of Florida’s marshes and swamps.
In addition to this, the Northern Harrier will typically breed once a year during the breeding season in a pair, although this unique species of Harrier Hawk has often been spotted with numerous mates at once!
- Typical Wingspan: 44 to 53 inches
- Average Weight: Usually between 24 to 51 ounces
- Average Length: 17-26 inches on average depending on gender
Next up on our list, we have the Red-Tailed Hawk, which can be found across various states across North America, although it is most commonly found residing in Florida.
Unlike other types of Hawk which are often known to migrate from place to place – the Red-Tailed Hawk is often found to reside in Florida all year round thanks to the agreeable living conditions.
While hunting, these powerful and agile hunters will typically utilize a strategy of circling the skies while using their incredibly acute eyesight to spot prey hundreds of meters away down on the ground.
Once a potential prey has been spotted, the Red-Tailed Hawk will then typically “dive” down to the ground in order to catch the prey in one long, graceful motion, although they are also known to use their strong talons to perch on branches and other things that offer an above-ground viewing point, before then diving down to the ground to scoop up their prey.
As for their appearance? The Red-Tailed Hawk usually has a red tail (hence the name) as well as a striped belly with pale-hued feathers, as well as a deep red tail that stretches up the body into a burst of golden brown feathers that extend across the back.
- Typical Wingspan: 16 to 22 ½ inches
- Average Weight: Varies from anywhere between 3 to 8 ounces
- Average Length: Around 9 to 13 ½ inches
Next up on our list of Floridian Hawks, we have the Sharp-Shinned Hawk which, as we’re sure you can already tell from the image above – is one of the smallest species of Hawk that you’re likely to ever come across!
Unlike other species of Hawk, the Sharp-Shinned Hawk is characterized by a small head, big eyes, orange-hued bars across the breast, and a grey-hued body.
Even though the Sharp-Shinned Hawk might be on the smaller side, don’t be fooled because this tiny species of Hawk is an agile hunter and extremely strategic. Thanks to their long legs and powerful talons, these Hawks are typically known to circle the air while hunting, before diving to scoop up prey hundreds of feet below on the ground.
Alongside that, the Sharp-Shinned Hawk will also typically hunt on the ground thanks to its slim and sleek profile that allows this Hawk to creep up on unsuspecting prey without making a sound.
- Typical Wingspan: 31 to nearly 40 inches
- Average Weight: Around 9 to 20 ounces
- Average Length: 13 to 17 ½ niches on average depending on gender
Another Hawk native to the state of Florida is the Broad-Winged Hawk! Typically found residing in the southernmost areas of Florida, the Broad-Winged Hawk will often migrate in a group (which is officially referred to as a kettle) every year from neighboring states.
As for their appearance? These little but mighty Hawks are characterized by big heads that are typically brown and red-hued in appearance, with stocky bodies that often contain underbellies full of dark-shaded bars.
The tail is usually short and wide in appearance, which helps to lend this Hawk stability while perched, and more power while flying.
When it comes to hunting and defending themselves, the Broad-Winged Hawk is known for being fiercely protective and agile. When a Broad-Winged Hawk feels threatened, it will usually let out a screeching whistle to ward off unwanted visitors, and will not shy away from attacking if need be.
While hunting, they will typically opt to perch and wait for unsuspecting prey to arrive, before diving down to scoop up the prey with their strong talons.
- Typical Wingspan: Around 37 to 44 inches
- Average Weight: Usually between 17 to 27 ounces
- Average Length: Varies from 16 to 24 inches
Last but certainly not least, we have the Red-Shouldered Hawk, which is a water-loving Hawk that is most commonly found residing in Florida all year round.
Known to have a preference for living near water, Red-Shouldered Hawks are typically found nesting in the same nest for years on end and are most commonly known to nest in densely wooded areas high up from the ground to ensure the safety of themselves and any young.
Due to this, even though this species of hawk is not currently classified as being endangered, this specific species of Hawk might be at risk of becoming endangered due to the increasing problem of deforestation.
To follow, the Red-Shouldered Hawk is typically around medium to large in size, and it should be noted that the females are typically the larger of the two -which is a characteristic that is commonly seen throughout nearly all species of Hawk.
As for the feathers, they are typically brown-hued with hints of red, and will usually have black and white bands interspersed throughout the body and underbelly.
While hunting, the Red-Shouldered Hawk will usually fly over wooded areas, using their incredibly good eyesight to spot prey hundreds of feet below on the ground. Typically, the Red-Shouldered Hawk will hunt small mammals due to their medium size, including reptiles, rodents, birds, and more.
Fun Facts About Hawks
- On average, a Hawk will live for up to 20 years in the wild!
- Despite being skilled hunters, Hawks have a terrible sense of smell. Luckily, though, their powerful wings, strong falcons, and incredible eyesight make up for it.
- Mostly solitary, unless it is breeding season where Hawks will typically form a temporary union with another, most species of Hawk will spend the majority of their lives alone.
- On the rare instance that a group of Hawks will fly together in a group, they are known as a kettle!
- Blessed with fantastic eyesight, it is estimated that a Hawk is able to see up to 8 times more clearly than a human.