9 Different Types of Hawks in Pennsylvania

Different Types of Hawks in Pennsylvania
by A.Davey is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Pennsylvania is known for its varied wildlife, and it’s no different regarding hawks.

There are different types of hawks in Pennsylvania, from the Red-tailed hawks to the Sharp-shinned hawks. 

Whether you’re a bird watcher, a hunter, or simply an admirer of wildlife, you’ll be amazed at the diversity of hawks in the Keystone State.

In our blog post, we’ll look at all the different types of hawks in Pennsylvania.

1. Northern Harrier

Northern Harrier
by RS2Photography is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Northern Harrier is first on our list of types of hawks in Pennsylvania.

It is a type of hawk that can be found in Pennsylvania. It has a wingspan of around 43-54 inches and a length of 18-24 inches.

They have a unique appearance, with a long, broad-winged silhouette, white rump patch, and facial disc made of feathers. 

These types of hawks in Pennsylvania tend to live near wetlands or open fields and hunt for small mammals like voles and mice.

They also feed on insects, reptiles, and birds. Their diet includes small animals like snakes, lizards, frogs, and rodents.

They use powerful feet to capture their prey and carry it away. 

These hawks are usually seen soaring above fields, looking for prey during the day, but they may also hunt at night.

Northern Harriers can be identified by their gray upperparts, white underparts, and yellow eyes.

They have a white crescent mark on their back and tail, which can help differentiate them from other hawks. 

The Northern Harrier is a migratory bird found in Pennsylvania during winter.

These types of hawks in Pennsylvania can be seen gliding above wetlands and fields, searching for their prey. They may also be seen perched on fence posts or telephone poles. 

The Northern Harrier is an important part of Pennsylvania’s ecosystem, as it helps keep the population of small animals in check.

These hawks play an important role in keeping the local wildlife populations balanced.

The Northern Harrier is a fascinating species to observe, so if you’re lucky enough to spot one in Pennsylvania, take the time to admire it from afar.

2. Rough-legged Hawk

Rough-legged Hawk
by Jon David Nelson is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The Rough-Legged Hawk is second on our list of types of hawks in Pennsylvania.

It is a medium to large-sized hawk found in Pennsylvania.

This species is known for its distinctive long legs and talons, hence its name. 

Rough-Legged Hawks can be seen in the winter throughout Pennsylvania, mostly in open habitats such as wetlands and grasslands.

They prefer to hunt small mammals such as voles, mice, other small rodents, and insects.

In the summer, they move further north to breed, but they are a common sight during the winter months in Pennsylvania.

The adult Rough-Legged Hawk is a large raptor with long legs, broad wings, and a tail.

They have a light brown back, light underparts with barred streaking, white patches on their wings, and white head and tail. Juveniles are darker and more heavily streaked than adults.

They can often be seen soaring high in the sky or perching on fence posts and utility poles while hunting.

Rough-Legged Hawks can be identified from other birds of prey by their characteristic white patches on their wings, which are visible when they soar in the sky.

Their long legs and talons can also distinguish them from other types of hawks in Pennsylvania.

Despite their large size, Rough-Legged Hawks are still quite agile hunters, able to easily take down small prey.

This makes them an important predator in Pennsylvania’s ecosystems.

3. Broad-winged Hawk

Broad-winged Hawk
by Moschell is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

The Broad-Winged Hawk is a medium-sized bird of prey found in the United States, including Pennsylvania.

It has a reddish-brown body and wings, with a broad white tail band and barring on its wings and tail. Its call is a high-pitched whistle or scream. 

This hawk hunts for small mammals, birds, and insects from an elevated perch or in swift, agile flight.

They are migratory birds and can often be seen flying in large V-shaped formations during migration. 

In Pennsylvania, the Broad-Winged Hawk is seen from April through October, with its peak season being from June to August.

It nests in deciduous woodlands, mostly near water or edges of fields. Its nest is typically built in the crook of a tree with sticks and branches.

4. Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk
by jimthompson is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Red-shouldered Hawk is a medium-sized hawk found in Pennsylvania’s woodlands, forests, and swamps.

This hawk type is easily recognized by its bright chestnut shoulders, barred belly, and unique call.

It is native to the eastern United States and migrates south for the winter. 

During the breeding season, the Red-shouldered hawks can be seen searching for prey in the open woodlands and wetlands of Pennsylvania.

This species of hawk is known to build its nest in tall trees such as oaks, sycamores, and maples.

The diet of a Red-shouldered Hawk consists of small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and some birds. 

5. Red-tailed Hawk

The Red-Tailed Hawk is next on our list of types of hawks in Pennsylvania.

It is a large bird of prey native to Pennsylvania and can be found throughout the state. 

This type of hawk has a brownish-red tail that gives it its name and is easily recognizable in flight.

It primarily eats small mammals, including squirrels, rabbits, mice, birds, reptiles, and insects.

Red-tailed hawks are usually seen soaring high in the sky and are easily identifiable by their large wingspan and characteristic soaring patterns.

In Pennsylvania, the red-tailed hawk can be found in grasslands, forests, open fields, and near water sources like lakes and rivers. 

The Red-Tailed Hawk is an important species in the state, helping to keep rodent populations in check and helping to maintain healthy ecosystems.

The Northern Goshawk is another type of hawk found in Pennsylvania.

These powerful raptors have a grayish-brown body with white patches on their wings and tail. They hunt small mammals, birds, and even reptiles.

This species can be found in most types of habitats in Pennsylvania, including forests, grasslands, and open fields.

Northern Goshawks also use trees as perching points while they hunt.

They are not as common as other hawks but can still be found throughout the state if you look closely. 

6. Sharp-shinned Hawk

Sharp-shinned Hawk
by wanderinggrrl is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The Sharp-Shinned Hawk is a small, slender hawk found throughout Pennsylvania.

It has a blue-gray back and wings, with a rusty-red bar on its breast. Its tail is banded with narrow stripes of black and white. 

This hawk often perches in coniferous trees and uses its long tail and wings to maneuver through thick brush.

It prefers to hunt smaller birds and mammals, such as sparrows, finches, mice, and chipmunks.

This species is most active during the day when it swoops low over grassy areas for food.

In Pennsylvania, the Sharp-Shinned Hawk can be seen year-round and is generally one of the earliest hawks to arrive in the spring.

The Sharp-Shinned Hawk is unique in that it has adapted its hunting style to fit the changing environment.

It has evolved to perch in conifers and then swoop down on unsuspecting prey from above.

This method lets the hawk quickly grab its meal before the animal reacts or hides. 

The Sharp-Shinned Hawk is known for its excellent vision and swift flying abilities.

This hawk can reach up to 35 mph and change directions quickly due to its long, narrow wings.

The Sharp-Shinned Hawk is a beneficial part of the local ecosystem, helping keep rodents and other small animals in check.

This species is important to maintain balance in Pennsylvania’s forests and fields.

With conservation efforts, the Sharp-Shinned, one of the types of hawks in Pennsylvania, has remained stable and continues to call Pennsylvania home.

7. Osprey

Ospreys are a common sight throughout Pennsylvania and can be easily identified by their distinct white heads, dark backs, and white bellies.

These majestic types of hawks in Pennsylvania usually nest near bodies of water and feed on fish they catch with their talons. 

Osprey tends to be most active during the day, often gliding or hovering over lakes or rivers.

They are also found on artificial structures such as utility poles, making them relatively easy to observe.

8. Cooper’s Hawk

Cooper's Hawk
by esellingson is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Cooper’s Hawk is another large type of hawk in Pennsylvania. It has a dark-brown body, barred chest, and reddish cap.

This hawk species are most active during the day but can sometimes be seen at night. 

They prefer hunting in dense forests and open fields, feeding on smaller birds and mammals such as rabbits and squirrels.

The Cooper’s Hawk is an aggressive hunter who often ambushes its prey from above.

9. Golden Eagle

Golden Eagle
by Jon David Nelson is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The Golden Eagle is last on our list of types of hawks in Pennsylvania.

It is one of the largest raptors in Pennsylvania, known for its impressive wingspan and striking coloration.

Its head is dark brown, while its body is mostly covered with golden feathers. 

This species prefers to hunt in open areas such as meadows and grasslands, where it feeds on small mammals like rabbits and groundhogs.

Golden Eagles are powerful hunters, capable of taking down larger prey such as foxes and deer fawns.


Pennsylvania is beautiful, with plenty of outdoor activities and breathtaking scenery.

One of the most interesting things to observe in the Keystone State is the wide variety of types of hawks in Pennsylvania that can be found here.

From the majestic Red-tailed Hawk to the impressive Red-shouldered Hawk, Pennsylvania is home to many species of these majestic birds of prey.

In our blog post, we have looked at all the different types of hawks in Pennsylvania and discussed some ways you can identify each species.

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