9 Types of Hawks in Vermont

Types of Hawks in Vermont
Photo by Joshua J. Cotten

Hawks are a type of bird found in the state of Vermont.

These majestic types of hawks in Vermont can be seen soaring over mountains, open fields, and wooded areas. 

Different types of hawks call Vermont home: the red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), rough-legged hawk (Buteo lagopus), broad-winged hawk (Buteo platypterus), red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus) and sharp-shinned hawk (Accipiter striatus).

All these types of hawks in Vermont have adapted to live comfortably in the Northern climates of Vermont while still being able to hunt and feed on small mammals, reptiles, and insects.

1. Cooper’s Hawks

Cooper’s Hawk
by airboy123 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Cooper’s Hawks are first on our list of types of hawks in Vermont. It is a type of hawk commonly found throughout Vermont.

Characterized by their long tails, broad wings, and white chests marked with brown barring, these hawks are about the size of a crow, with brownish-gray upper parts and whitish underparts. 

They hunt mainly small mammals such as squirrels and rabbits but also consume a variety of species, from birds to reptiles.

Cooper’s Hawks primarily use coniferous trees like pine and fir and deciduous tree species like maple and oak to nest or find shelter in winter.

Despite their common prevalence in Vermont, their population is still threatened due to changes in land-use practices that reduce habitats suitable for hunting and nesting.

2. Osprey

Osprey, also known as sea hawks, is on our list of types of hawks in Vermont.

As a type of hawk, they are larger than most other species and have distinct features that set them apart from other hawks.

Our article will explore the characteristics of Osprey and its specific habitat in Vermont. 

Ospreys are medium-sized birds of prey with a wingspan of up to five feet. They have white undersides, brown backs, and a distinctive whitehead and orange beak.

These types of hawks in Vermont are excellent hunters using their bird’s eye view to spot fish up high. 

Commonly found near rivers and marshes, these hawks can also be seen near lakes or coastal waters searching for food. 

In Vermont, Osprey lives along the many freshwater bodies throughout the state, such as Lake Champlain, Lake Memphremagog, and the Connecticut River Valley, all of which provide ample nesting opportunities for these raptors. 

They can often be seen perching on dead tree branches alongside the shoreline to watch for prey like small trout or bass swimming below the water’s surface.

Since Osprey requires open water sources, they aren’t typically seen too far inland away from bodies of water in Vermont’s countryside. 

Overall, Ospreys are fascinating creatures offering spectacular views on land and when soaring high above us in search of fish beneath the waves.

If you ever visit any waterfront area in Vermont, you may easily glimpse this majestic bird gliding through the sky!

3. Sharp-shinned Hawk

Sharp-shinned Hawk - Types of Hawks in Pennsylvania
by wanderinggrrl is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The Sharp-Shinned Hawk is one of the most commonly seen hawks in Vermont.

It has a slim body and wingspan, with a rufous-colored chest and upper parts and a white belly. Its head is rounded, featuring a large bill and small feet.

This predatory bird feeds mostly on small mammals and birds, which it catches by swooping through dense forests or onto backyards. 

The Sharp-Shinned Hawks of Vermont make an invaluable contribution to the local ecosystems as they help regulate prey populations and insect numbers.

In winter, this species flocks together in large groups, where they are more easily observed than in summer when they spread out into smaller hunting ranges.

4. Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk
by Charles Patrick Ewing is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Red-shouldered Hawk is a species of hawk native to the state of Vermont.

This species of hawk is one of the most commonly seen types in Vermont and can be found throughout the region in urban and rural habitats.

The Red-shouldered Hawk plays an important role in the ecosystem as a top predator, helping to keep down populations of rodents, snakes, and other small animals. 

The Red-Shouldered Hawk is a medium-sized raptor with distinctly colored wings. Its head and back are typically blackish to brownish-gray with reddish barring on its chest, shoulders, and tail.

Its wings are brownish to reddish below and gray on top, with a distinctive white flash on each side that extends from wrist to shoulder. 

When it takes flight, this white bar looks like two strips of light crossing the bird’s body.

The Red-Shouldered Hawk typically has yellow eyes and a dark bill, which helps distinguish it from other Vermont hawks, such as Sharp-shinned or Cooper’s Hawks. 

Red-shouldered Hawks usually hunt soaring high above their prey, diving down promptly after spotting something suitable, usually rodents smaller than rabbits or insects such as grasshoppers or wasps.

They also use flight maneuvers such as hovering over their prey when searching for food in dense vegetation or silent gliding while tracking potential meals along ridge tops or beaches. 

Additionally, red-shouldered hawks like to nest near water, such as streams or rivers, where there may be more abundant prey opportunities than in some terrestrial areas further inland.

Overall, the Red-Shouldered Hawk is another fascinating example of avian wildlife in Vermont’s diverse ecological settings, making it unique from many other places around North America and beyond!

5. Red-tailed Hawk

The red-tailed hawk is next on our list of types of hawks in Vermont. These birds are known for their stunning plumage, impressive size, and ability to change habitats quickly and easily.

Birdwatchers have always appreciated this species, but they’ve recently become popular with photographers.  

The Red-Tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) is a large raptor throughout most of North America, including Vermont.

These types of hawks in Vermont have a variety of plumage patterns depending on where they live and the season they are born in; however, their distinctive reddish tail is usually the most obvious feature that distinguishes them from other types of hawks in Vermont. 

Red-tailed hawks often soar in high circles over open areas, searching for small prey like rodents or insects.

They also often perch atop trees or poles before swooping down to grab food or capture prey from above.

They also hunt from stationary points such as roadsides and highway medians as well as fields, grasslands, and meadows near water sources.

Invertebrates such as crickets and grasshoppers provide an important source of nutrition for these raptors, especially during late summer when insect populations reach their peak.

The Red-Tailed Hawks’ screams are commonly heard echoing through Vermont’s countryside, sending the message that this majestic raptor considers it home!

6. Northern Goshawk

Northern Goshawk

The Northern Goshawk is a type of hawk found in Vermont and throughout North America.

Also known as Accipiter gentilis, the Northern Goshawk is commonly seen soaring above forests and open spaces hunting for small prey. It has been classified as a species of least concern by the IUCN Red List. 

The Northern Goshawk is one of several types of hawks in Vermont. It is a large raptor with an overall length of 18–20 inches, and its wingspan usually ranges between 34 and 43 inches.

It is typically gray or black with white patches on the underbelly, while its chest may be barred with lighter colors like red or white. 

Additionally, its tail is long, rounded, and marked with three or four narrow bands that aid in maneuvering when it dives after prey.

Northern Goshawks primarily hunt small mammals such as rodents, rabbits, squirrels, and grouse. They also feed on reptiles, amphibians, and even insects if accessible. 

The Northern Goshawk prefers wooded areas interspersed with open areas for hunting purposes; however, they will also inhabit coniferous forests during the breeding season to build nests.

Interestingly enough, their calls are very loud for a hawk – consisting of five-note hoots! 

Overall, the Northern Goshawk plays an important role in the ecosystem of Vermont by controlling small animal populations and acting as prey to larger predators such as owls and eagles.

These majestic types of hawks in Vermont signify that a healthy ecosystem exists in this part of North America!

7. Broad-winged Hawk

Broad-winged Hawk
by Allan Hopkins is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Broad-winged Hawk is a common species of hawk found in the states of Vermont and Massachusetts, as well as throughout much of the eastern United States.

These types of hawks in Vermont are medium-sized with broad wingspans, typically ranging from 35–45 inches long.

They are mostly dark brown on the top side, with light buffy underparts and white patches on their tails.

The Broad-winged Hawk is a medium-sized raptor with extensive grayish-brown plumage covering most of its body and head.

Adults have a distinct light bar on their wings when perched, distinguishing them from other raptors.

The legs and feet are yellowish, while their bellies have fine darker streaks distributed across them. Their long wingspan allows them to soar through the sky while hunting prey. 

These majestic hawks typically spend their summers in boreal forests near open areas, hunting for small animals, reptiles, insects, and occasionally small mammals such as rabbits and squirrels.

As autumn approaches, they migrate southward along the east coast before heading back up north again with springtime temperatures.

During migration seasons, they often fly low over wooded areas to catch thermal updrafts, which facilitate gliding over long distances without much effort expended during flight. 

The Broad-winged Hawk is an impressive raptor species best identified by its distinctive wing markings when perched alongside its medium size body shape registering between 35 – 45 inches long, making it larger than most comparable-sized raptors in Vermont regions.

It’s primarily a hunter living off smaller animals.

Still, it will also venture into open spaces to feed off insects or frogs whenever allowed to make it one of nature’s great adaptable predators whether living in cold northerly climates or warmer southern ones instead!

8. Rough-legged Hawk

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

The Rough-Legged Hawk is next on our list of types of hawks in Vermont and is typically found in the northern parts of Vermont.

It is primarily a winter visitor to the state, but there have been some instances where they have remained and even bred here.

This hawk can survive in extremely cold weather and prefers open habitats with high, flat ground, such as farms, meadows, ridges, and mountain slopes. 

As its name implies, the Rough-Legged Hawk has feathered legs down to its toes, making it well adapted to living in cold climates.

Its diet mainly consists of small rodents, and it hunts for food soaring high above open fields.

When flying high above the ground, it can be distinguished from other hawks by its dark upper wings, which contrast against its white head, yellow bill, and light underbelly.

9. Northern Harrier

Northern Harrier - Types of Hawks in Pennsylvania
by RS2Photography is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Northern Harrier is last on our list of types of hawks in Vermont and other parts of the United States.

This type of hawk lives in open fields, marshes, and wetlands areas and prefers feeding on small animals such as rodents and frogs.

Characterized by its long wings with a wing span reaching 18-24 inches and a white rump patch, the Northern Harrier is easily distinguished from other local hawks.

It also has keen eyesight that allows it to spot prey from far away distances, which makes it particularly effective at hunting small animals.

In addition to being an efficient hunter, this species plays an important role in controlling rodent populations across the United States.


After examining the various types of hawks in Vermont, it is clear that there is a wide range of diversity amongst the species, from large raptors such as Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawks to smaller ones such as American Kestrels. 

The state also supports species like Sharp-Shinned Hawks, Cooper’s Hawks, Northern Harriers, and more.

Through careful observation and appreciation of these types of hawks in Vermont, we can gain insight into the environment and ecology of Vermont.

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