HARRIS’S HAWK – Parabuteo unicinctus


Harris’s hawk facts: Harris’s hawks have mostly dark brown feathers, but their shoulders are red-brown and their tail feathers are black with white tips. Their length is between 19 and 22 inches (48 to 56 centimeters) from the bill tip to tail.

Geographic range: Harris’s hawks live in southwestern United States, Mexico, Central America, and South America.

Harris’s hawk habitat: As long is there is water nearby, Harris’s hawks can live in desert areas. Some of the birds live in grasslands and a few use wetlands. They also need an area where there are a few trees, tall saguaro cacti (KACK-tie, or KACK-tee), or electrical transmission towers where they can build nests.

What does harris’s hawk eat: Harris’s hawks eat mostly hares, rabbits, birds, and lizards. They can kill prey that is large for their size because they hunt in groups of two to six hawks.

Behavior and reproduction: Harris’s hawks are more sociable than most hawks. They build stick nests and line them with moss, grass, and leaves. Females lay between one and four eggs. Males bring food to the females and help defend the nest, and occasionally males will sit on the eggs. In desert areas, females must shade the eggs and chicks from heat. Often other Harris’s hawks, usually young birds that are not breeding, help to feed the chicks and guard the nest. Some pairs raise two families in the same year. Often the young of the first nest help to raise the second set of chicks.

Harris’s hawks and people: Biologists and bird lovers are fascinated by Harris’s hawks. Because the hawks are so sociable, they behave in ways that are unusual for birds and interesting to study.

Conservation status: Harris’s hawks are not threatened.