Harris’s Hawk

Harris’s Hawk Parabuteo unicinctus

Type of Animal:

Desert, desert/semidesert lowlands, semidesert, scrubland, savanna, agricultural lands, marshy open/semi-open areas w/ scattered trees, sparse open woodland patches, wetlands, rural areas, urban/suburban areas, brushland, trees along rivers, river woodland, mesquite areas, canyons, chaparral, mangrove swamps, mesquite woodland, palo verde woodland, ironwood woodland, washes, open lots, grassland, scrub forest, shrubland, tropical dry forest-prefers low & middle elevations but can be found as high as 3,280.84 ft

S Texas, SE California, S Arizona, far S New Mexico, N & W Mexico, W Central America, N Venezuela, NE & C Colombia, W Ecuador, W & E Peru, parts of W & C Chile, C & E Bolivia, Paraguay, E Brazil, Uruguay, N Argentina

Dark underbelly w/ reddish-brown patches on shoulder, tail has broad dark band w/ white at base/tip, broad round wings, long tail, yellow beak, reddish-brown to brown body, S American birds smaller than N & C American birds, females larger than males, juveniles buffer/lighter

Small mammals up to size of jackrabbits, birds up to size of great blue herons, lizards, snakes (including venomous species), carrion, baby tortoises, insects

Status in Wild:

Reintroductions into California by Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group in 1979.

Groups of 2-20 individuals, consisting of female, 1-4 males, & 1-6 sets of offspring, each w/ 1-4 young. Older offspring act as helpers.

Additional Info:

Male: Tiercel
Female: Hen
Young: Eyas
Group: Boil/Kettle/Pack

Male: 1.204-1.784 lbs
Female: 1.689-3.6 lbs

1 month 

Life Span:
10-12 years in wild, 20-25 years in captivity

Male: 1.5 ft
Female: 2 ft

Body Length:
Male: 1.5 ft
Female: 2 ft

Tail Length:
0.9 ft, same for both sexes

Main predators of adults are great horned owls, coyotes, bobcats, foxes, wolves, bears, eagles, & larger hawks (latter more often takes juveniles/young). Ravens prey on juveniles/young. Snakes only take young.
Usually breed twice a year but sometimes 3 times a year.
Named after Edward Harris, friend of famous ornithologist John James Audubon.
Also called Bay-Winged or Dusky Hawk.
Can easily perch on cacti due to tough legs.
Sometimes cache prey so it can be eaten later.

Fun Fact(s):
Vision 8 times better than that of humans.
Trained birds have been used to remove unwanted pigeon populations in London’s Trafalgar Square & from Wimbledon tennis courts.
Very popular in falconry & education programs due to tamability.
Nicknamed “Wolves of the Sky” due to pack hunting behavior.
Often practice behavior called “back stacking,” in which birds stand on top of each other when perches are scarce.

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