8 Unnerving Species Of Hawks In Pennsylvania: You Must Know

Hawks In Pennsylvania

There are around 270 species of carnivorous birds in the order Falconiformes worldwide. They are all classified as raptors, or birds of prey.

Although all hawks have certain basic qualities, such as acute vision, hooked beaks, and taloned feet, they appear in a wide variety of forms and sizes. Hawks are extremely capable predators.

To survive, they catch, kill, and consume a wide range of animals. This predation is neither malevolent or nasty.

It has been going on for millions of years and plays an important role in preserving nature’s equilibrium.

Hawks in PennsylvaniaLengthWeightIdentification(Color)Diet/Favorite Food
Sharp-Shinned Hawk9.4-13.4 in (24-34 cm)3.1-7.7 oz (87-218 g)This hawk has a slaty blue-gray upper body, with narrow, horizontal red-orange bars on the breast.Mostly small birds and animals.
Cooper’s Hawk14.6-15.3 in (37-39 cm) to 16.5-17.7 in (42-45 cm)7.8-14.5 oz (220-410 g) to 11.6-24.0 oz (330-680 g)This hawk has a steely blue-gray upper body with warm reddish bars on the underparts and thick dark bands on the tail.Mostly small to medium birds and animals.
Northern Goshawk20.9-25.2 in (53-64 cm)22.3-48.1 oz (631-1364 g)This hawk has pale gray barred underparts and dark slate gray upper body. The color of the head is dark with a wide white stripe over the eye. Mostly small to medium birds and animals.
Red-Shouldered Hawk16.9-24.0 in (43-61 cm)17.1-27.3 oz (486-774 g)These hawks are very colorful with warm reddish barring on the breast and dark-and-white checkered wings.Mostly small birds, animals, and reptiles.
Broad-Winged Hawk 13.4-17.3 in (34-44 cm)9.3-19.8 oz (265-560 g)This hawk has a reddish-brown head, barred underbody, and broad black and white bands on the tail.Mostly small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, birds
Swainson’s Hawk18.9-22.1 in (48-56 cm)24.4-48.2 oz (693-1367 g)This hawk has a dark or reddish-brown chest and brown or gray upperparts. Mostly small animals and birds.
Red-Tailed Hawk 17.7-22.1 in (45-56 cm) to 19.7-25.6 in (50-65 cm)24.3-45.9 oz (690-1300 g) to 31.8-51.5 oz (900-1460 g)This hawk has a rich brown upper body and pale below, with a streaked belly and, and a dark bar between shoulder and wrist.Mostly small mammals, birds, reptiles
Rough-Legged Hawk18.5-20.5 in (47-52 cm)25.2-49.4 oz (715-1400 g)These hawks are dark-brown in color with tails that are dark at the tip and pale at the base.Mostly feeds on small animals such as lemmings and voles.

Hawks In Pennsylvania

Sharp-Shinned Hawk

The Sharp-Shinned Hawk is a vicious hawk that preys on tiny animals and birds.

They take delight in their nests, which are typically lined with twigs and bark to provide appropriate insulation for their eggs.

These vengeful birds, on the other hand, have no concern for nests and are notorious for stealing baby birds from nests and pulling their feathers off before consuming them.

The male and female will actively collaborate to gather materials and construct a good, robust nest to contain their pale and blue-spotted eggs.

The Fall migration is the greatest time to observe one of these fearsome predators.

Though they can be spotted in the winter, they are more common during the transitional periods between seasons, when they can be seen in great numbers.

Cooper’s Hawk

Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s hawks have very similar looks, making them difficult to distinguish.

Both species use the flap-flap-glide flying technique. Cooper’s hawks, on the other hand, are somewhat larger and have broader wings.

They have an accipiter shape and are about the size of a crow, with broad, rounded wings and a long tail.

Cooper’s hawks are incredible flyers, capable of quickly crossing dense forests in pursuit of smaller birds.

They are mainly found on the fringes of forests, although they can also be found in backyards.

These hawks, which used to avoid populated areas, are becoming more common in cities, suburbs, and other urban areas, where they prey on the numerous pigeons and doves that live there.

Northern Goshawk

Northern goshawks are more solitary than other hawks, making them harder to find.

Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s hawks are close cousins, albeit the Sharp-shinned is larger and more fierce. Their eyes have a reddish-orange color with white lines above them.

They have an accipiter form, with short, broad wings and a long tail that helps them maneuver quickly while hunting their preferred diet is little birds.

Humans are vulnerable to their aggressiveness. Northern goshawks have been known to attack people who get too close to their nests.

Red-Shouldered Hawk

As the name implies, red-shouldered hawks have minor reddish striping on their light undersides and white banding on their tails.

Because of their colorful plumage, these hawks are easy to see. Another unique trait is their translucent crescents on their wingtips, which are visible during flying.

The year-round hawks live in moist forests, often along streams and creeks.

In the spring, they may commonly be seen hovering above their mating grounds. The clear crescents near their wingtips make them simple to identify.

Crows and red-shouldered hawks are enemies. They typically fight and try to steal food from one another, yet they do occasionally band together to defeat a common threat.

Broad-Winged Hawk

When it comes to mating, the Broad-Winged Hawk prefers to remain hidden in thick forests where there is an abundant supply of food.

Mating, nesting, and child-raising all require this. Despite their fearsome appearance, they prefer to establish their nests far from people.

The greatest time to look for the Broad-Winged Hawk is during the summer. This hawk is famous for its incredible migratory habits.

In the cold, it doesn’t simply move a little bit. When winter approaches, this one-of-a-kind bird completely abandons the United States.

These birds may be spotted traveling in large groups to warmer regions after a cold front passes through.

To find one, listen for the piercing, single-pitched whistle that a Broad-winged hawk produces when hunting. They typically circle far above the treetops in search of little things on the ground.

Swainson’s Hawk

The Swainson’s Hawk, often known as the grasshopper hawk, is a unique bird that feeds mostly on insects. This bird appreciates the better things in life, usually building nests towards the tops of trees.

Even though the bulk of the trees is medium in size, these hawks don’t seem to be worried about that.

They like to be high enough to avoid harassment, but not so high that they have to go a great distance to eat their favorite bugs. It’s a gorgeous bird that prefers open woodlands and grassy areas.

They enjoy eating a wide variety of juicy bugs and require a large open space to hunt them. On a cold day, you could get a glimpse of one of these birds grabbing up a great large grasshopper.

Red-Tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawks are one of the most common hawks in North America, therefore you’ve probably seen one.

They can be spotted all year, usually perched on high vantage points or floating overhead. You’re likely to spot these on roadside telephone poles throughout your daily drive.

They have a white, creamy bottom with slight reddish-brown markings and a distinctive red-feather tail. In-flight, their big, rounded wings and short tail, which are characteristic of buteo hawks, may be observed.

Listen for their characteristic raptor screech — it’s the same sound used for hawks and other birds of prey in most movies and television shows. 

Rough-Legged Hawk

The Rough-Legged Hawk is a proud and protective species that places a high value on nesting and mating.

It is well-known for constructing nests high in the sky that provide a view of the world below. Other birds in the area are likely to annoy these birds, which is why they build their nests so high.

Because their robust nests are reused year after year, they are constructed to be incredibly durable and require minimal upkeep.

They typically fly up and face the wind when hunting, hovering and inspecting the ground for prey. They have the same buteo shape as the Red-tailed hawk, but their wings are longer and thinner.

Rough-legged hawks have dark-brown markings, but light and dark varieties are encountered on occasion. The epithet “rough-legged” refers to their fully feathered legs.

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