Have you ever been curious about the types of hawks in Florida?
With its humid subtropical climate, Florida is home to a wide range of species, including several different types of hawks.
Florida’s sky is filled with beautiful hawks, from large, powerful raptors like the Red-shouldered Hawk to small, agile birds like the American Kestrel.
In our blog post, we will explore the different types of hawks in Florida you might encounter in the state.
1. Short-tailed Hawk
The Short-tailed Hawk is starting our list of the types of hawks in Florida. It is a small, agile raptor found in the everglades of South Florida.
These types of hawks in Florida feed on small animals like insects, lizards, and frogs, and they use their impressive vision to spot their prey from the sky. They can usually be seen soaring over open fields and wetlands, hunting during the day, and roosting at night. While not considered endangered, the Short-tailed Hawk is rare in Florida.
These types of hawks in Florida have a wingspan of up to three feet and weigh around two pounds. They often hunt for rodents, insects, and other small creatures from the sky. These birds often appear in large flocks, soaring high in the sky. Although the Broad-winged Hawk is widely distributed throughout Florida, their numbers are declining due to habitat loss.
2. Broad-winged Hawk
The Broad-winged Hawk is a common type of hawk found in Florida. These types of hawks in Florida are known for their large wingspan and distinctive chirping sound. They typically have black and brown feathers, though some may appear more gray or even white.
They can also be identified by their bright yellow eyes and their hooked beaks. Broad-winged Hawks prefer open fields and woodlands to hunt small mammals, reptiles, insects, and other birds. These types of hawks in Florida usually migrate south during winter, some returning as early as mid-February to nest in Florida.
Broad-winged Hawks are most active during the day but can soar high at night when hunting. They often form large flocks that soar in circles while searching for food.
With their long wingspans and sharp eyes, they are adept hunters, able to spot prey from far away. Broad-winged Hawks have been known to reach up to 50 miles per hour while hunting, making them one of the fastest birds in the sky.
3. Red-tailed Hawk
The Red-tailed Hawk is another type of hawk that is common in Florida. These types of hawks in Florida are larger than most other species of hawks and can reach a wingspan of up to 3 feet. They are easily recognizable by their reddish-brown tail feathers, which contrast sharply against the dark brown or black body.
Red-tailed Hawks are versatile predators who feed on everything from small rodents to reptiles and amphibians. They usually hunt alone, preferring to sit atop tall trees or buildings to scan the ground below for prey.
These types of hawks in Florida are most active during the day, but they are also known to hunt at night occasionally. Red-tailed Hawks can live up to 25 years in the wild and are an important part of the Florida ecosystem. Although these hawks can sometimes look intimidating, they pose no threat to humans and are actually quite shy around people. If you ever spot a Red-tailed Hawk in Florida, take the time to admire its beauty before it flies away!
4. Red-tailed Hawk
The Red-tailed Hawk is a beautiful hawk found throughout the United States, including in Florida. This species is the most common type of hawk seen in the state.
Red-tailed Hawks can be identified by their brown or gray color, reddish tails, and white bars on their wings. They feed on small mammals, birds, insects, reptiles, and amphibians. This species nests in trees and shrubs, often close to human settlements.
Red-tailed Hawks tolerate human presence and can often be seen soaring above or perched on telephone poles. Although they hunt during the day, they also do some night hunting. During winter, many Red-tailed Hawks migrate south from northern states to Florida, where they spend the season foraging for food.
5. Cooper’s Hawk
The Cooper’s Hawk is a species of medium-sized hawk found throughout the United States, with a large population in Florida. It is identified by its characteristic white and brown mottled coloration on its chest and its bright yellow eyes. This species of hawk primarily feeds on small birds, mammals, insects, and reptiles.
They are also agile fliers and can make sudden dives to catch prey. They usually nest in thickets or trees in open wooded areas but may also be seen in suburban backyards.
Cooper’s Hawks are often confused with Sharp-shinned Hawks due to their similar appearance, though Cooper’s Hawks tend to be larger. While they have a fearsome presence, they are also quite beautiful to observe as they soar gracefully through the skies above Florida.
6. Northern Harrier
The Northern Harrier is a medium-sized hawk in Florida’s wooded swamps and marshes. This species is easily recognizable due to its unique white rump, large head, and long wings.
These types of hawks in Florida are mostly found near water, where they feed on small mammals, birds, and reptiles. They have a slow, hovering flight pattern that allows them to locate their prey from high in the sky.
The female Northern Harriers are larger than the males, but both sexes have a wingspan of about 50 inches. This species is typically seen alone or in small groups but may form larger flocks during the breeding season.
They are year-round residents in Florida but often migrate to other areas for the winter. If you’re lucky enough to spot a Northern Harrier, you won’t soon forget the majestic sight of these beautiful types of hawks in Florida!
7. Sharp-shinned Hawk
The Sharp-shinned Hawk is a type of hawk found in Florida. It is a small, agile hawk often mistaken for a falcon due to its large head and long, pointed wings.
This hawk primarily preys on small birds, as well as small mammals and insects. They are typically found in wooded areas but can sometimes be seen in more open fields or on the edges of suburban areas.
The Sharp-shinned Hawk has a black cap and a pale gray body with a white chest and belly. They have red eyes, yellow legs and feet, and a broad, square tail. It is important to note that the Sharp-shinned Hawk is also found in other parts of North America, including Canada and the northern United States.
Sharp-shinned Hawks are active year-round in Florida and can be seen throughout the state from November to April. During this time, they can be seen soaring high above the treetops or perching in low trees near bird feeders.
They are usually spotted hunting at dawn or dusk and may stay in the same area for up to several weeks when hunting is successful. If you are lucky enough to spot one of these types of hawks in Florida, take some time to admire its beauty and agility!
8. Red-shouldered Hawk
The Red-shouldered Hawk is a large, broad-winged hawk native to Florida and can be found in woodlands near wetlands. The upper side of the hawk is reddish-brown, with white and black barring along its chest and wings.
Its underside is mostly white, with a black-and-white tail band. Its head has a distinctive red patch before the eyes, giving this species its name.
Red-shouldered Hawks typically hunt from perches, such as trees or telephone wires, where they can spot prey from far away. They often fly low over wetlands and fields, looking for small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and insects. During mating season, the Red-shouldered Hawk performs aerial displays, including looping dives and rolls.
9. Swainson’s Hawk
The Swainson’s hawk is a large and powerful species found throughout Florida. Its wingspan can reach up to four feet and has brown, gray, and white feathers. It feeds primarily on small mammals, reptiles, and insects.
They have a particularly loud call that can be heard in open fields and woodlands. They are an important predator in the ecosystem and help keep the populations of small rodents and other animals in check.
The Swainson’s Hawk prefers open habitats such as fields, meadows, and marshes but can also be found in woodlands near the edges of forests. They usually hunt from a high perch or in soaring circles before swooping to capture their prey.
During the breeding season, the hawks will gather in large flocks to migrate south for the winter. They can often be seen migrating through Florida to more southern destinations.
10. Zone-tailed Hawk
The Zone-tailed Hawk is a large, powerful bird of prey found in the warmer regions of Florida. It has an overall dark brown plumage with a distinct black-and-white pattern on its tail. This distinctive tail pattern sets this species apart from other hawks, giving it its name.
The underside of the wings is barred, and the back is gray-brown with a few spots or bars. These hawks usually have a wingspan between 39 and 42 inches and soar high above open areas, hunting for small mammals and birds.
Zone-tailed types of hawks in Florida are mainly found in open woodlands, coastal regions, and scrub habitats in Florida. During the breeding season, they typically nest in tall trees near open fields or power lines. This species hunts during the day, searching for its prey, including small birds, mammals, and reptiles.
During the breeding season, the male will soar in circles to attract a mate; during courtship, they will perform a “roller coaster” flight pattern together. This species is classified as “Least Concern” by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
11. Great Black Hawk
The Great Black Hawk is an interesting type of hawk that you can spot in Florida. It is a very large species with a wingspan of up to 55 inches. They are found mainly in the southern part of the state and typically inhabit areas of lowland tropical forest.
These large types of hawks in Florida are most active during the day and can be seen soaring high above the trees searching for food. The Great Black Hawk typically feeds on small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish. They have also been known to eat carrion, insects, fruits, and seeds. When it comes to appearance, the Great Black Hawk can easily be distinguished by its black plumage and bright yellow legs.
In addition to their plumage, these types of hawks in Florida have a reddish-brown tail and a white line of feathers that runs down their back. When in flight, these birds make a distinctive “woo-woo” call that can be heard from far away. While they are usually solitary creatures, they can be seen in groups around roosting sites. The Great Black Hawk is an important part of the Florida ecosystem and provides valuable pest control services by keeping populations of small animals in check.
12. Rough-legged Hawks
Rough-legged Hawks, also known as Rough-legged Buzzards, are a type of hawk found in Florida. They have large wings and long, pointed tails that help them soar through the sky.
These types of hawks in Florida are usually found on open grasslands or fields, where they can take advantage of the thermals and rising air currents to stay aloft while they hunt. They feed mostly on small mammals, such as voles and mice.
Rough-legged Hawks may be seen in Florida during winter as they migrate south for food. In the summer, they breed in northern Canada and Alaska. This species is easily recognizable by its distinct plumage, which includes a dark brown back, light head, and white patches on its wings and tail.
13. Northern Goshawk
The Northern Goshawk is a large hawk species native to North America. It has a black cap, a white face and chest, grayish-black wings, and a rusty red belly.
This hawk is a powerful hunter of small to medium-sized birds, as well as small mammals and reptiles. Its habitat consists of large coniferous forests with some mixed deciduous woods.
In Florida, the Northern Goshawk can be seen in the northern parts of the state, usually around the Panhandle area. Northern Goshawks are relatively large birds, measuring approximately 18-21 inches long with a wingspan of 38-43 inches. They have long tails with four or five dark bands.
The adult male’s plumage is grayish above, with light bars on the tail and reddish brown underneath. The female Northern Goshawk is generally darker than the male, with more grayish coloration. These types of hawks in Florida have yellow eyes, yellow legs and feet, and yellow cere (the fleshy skin around their eyes). Northern Goshawks can be identified by their strong, straight flight path and slow wing beats.
14. Ferruginous Hawks
Ending our list of types of hawks in Florida is Ferruginous Hawks. They are a large type of hawk that can be seen in Florida. They have an overall light brown color with white patches on the back and wings, and they are distinguishable by their white tail with a black band at the end.
They prefer open grasslands but can also be found in open fields, desert scrub, and agricultural areas. They eat mostly small mammals such as rabbits and rodents, lizards, snakes, and sometimes small birds.
Ferruginous Hawks are usually solitary, but during the breeding season, they may form pairs. Their nests are usually found high up in trees or on the ground in shrubs. The female typically lays 2-4 eggs incubated for 28-32 days before hatching.
These types of hawks in Florida can be seen soaring over open terrain and sometimes catch prey in mid-air. During winter, they can be seen migrating southward from the northern parts of their range to spend the winter in Mexico and Central America.
Florida is home to many hawks, many of which can be seen soaring through the skies in different parts of the state. Whether looking for an iconic red-tailed hawk or a rare Swainson’s hawk, there are plenty of opportunities to observe these majestic types of hawks in Florida.
In our blog post, we have explored the various types of hawks in Florida State and provided some tips on how to spot them. So get your binoculars ready; it’s time to discover Florida‘s different types of hawks!