7 Fearsome Species of Hawks in Tennessee: You Must Know About

Hawks in Tennessee

The term “hawk” refers to a predatory bird that is active throughout the day. There are about 270 species of carnivorous birds in the order Falconiformes worldwide. Raptors, often known as birds of prey, are the collective name for all of them.

Although all hawks have some basic qualities in common, such as acute vision, hooked beaks, and taloned feet, they vary in shape and size. Hawks are fearsome predators.

In order to survive, they catch, kill, and consume a wide range of animals.

This predation is not intentional or harmful in any way. It has been going on for millions of years and is crucial to nature’s balance.

Hawks in TennesseeLengthWeightIdentification(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.
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
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.
Northern Harrier18.1-19.7 in (46-50 cm)10.6-26.5 oz (300-750 g)This hawk has a gray upper body and whitish lower body with black wingtips and a black-banded tail.Mostly feeds on small to medium-sized animals.

Hawks in Tennessee

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Sharp-Shinned Hawks like constructing their nests, which are frequently lined with twigs and bark to provide appropriate insulation for their eggs.

These vicious birds, on the other hand, are infamous for pulling young birds from others’ nests and consuming them.

The best opportunity to spot one of these fearsome creatures is during their fall migration. They are more common during the transitional seasons when vast numbers can be seen.

For many years, the Sharp-Shinned Hawk was one of the most well-known hawk species. Despite their wide range, they are most commonly seen along the coast and against the mountains.

When it comes to spotting these magnificent birds, Tennessee can be a terrific place to start, especially in the fall. They can be found all across the country due to their migratory habit.

Cooper’s Hawk

Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s hawks seem quite similar, making identification difficult. Both species fly in a flap-flap-glide pattern. Cooper’s hawks, on the other hand, are larger and have wider wings.

They resemble an accipiter and are roughly the size of a crow, with broad, rounded wings and a long tail. Cooper’s hawks are excellent flyers, capable of soaring quickly through dense forest in pursuit of smaller birds.

They are most usually seen on the margins of forests, but 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 pigeons and doves.

Red-shouldered Hawk

The greatest time to watch these accipiter hawks is during their migration in the fall. They migrate south in great numbers during migration, giving you a better chance of viewing them.

They spend most of their time breeding in deep forests, only venturing out to forage for food on vast plains.

Keep in mind that if you have bird feeders in your yard, these creatures are known for stealing innocent songbirds. If you come across a bird feeder in your yard, take it down and replenish it.

Broad-Winged Hawk

When it comes to breeding, the Broad-Winged Hawk prefers to stay hidden in dense woodlands with plenty of food.

This is required for mating, nesting, and child-rearing. Despite their intimidating look, they prefer to build their nests away from humans.

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

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

Following a cold front, these birds may be seen migrating in large numbers to warmer locations.

To locate one, listen for the piercing, single-pitched whistle produced by a Broad-winged hawk while hunting. They usually fly far above the treetops in search of small objects on the ground.

Red-Tailed Hawk

The Red-Tailed Hawk is a formidable bird with a wide wingspan. This bird can be seen flying through the skies with an almost absurdly enormous wingspan.

Given its size, it’s not unexpected that it can frighten and devour practically any small creature.

Because they migrate, you will see them flying across the sky during the day to stay warm as the temperature cools.

The Red-Tailed Hawk is a massive bird that can be seen from afar. Because of its commanding position and large size, it has no qualms about being openly exposed.

They’ve been seen on telephone poles, fences, and other visible structures. They can be seen prowling on the outskirts of the forests.

Rough-legged Hawk

The Rough-Legged Hawk is an adventurer, commonly spotted searching the world for its next meal. 

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

It is well-known for its ability to construct high-altitude nests that provide a bird’s-eye view of the world below.

These birds build their nests so high because other birds in the neighborhood are likely to irritate them.

Because they are reused year after year, their robust nests are designed to be incredibly long-lasting and low-maintenance.

Northern Harrier

Northern Harriers have the most owl-like appearance of any hawk species. To search for prey, they rely significantly on their acute hearing and vision.

These hawks are about the size of a crow or a goose and have long, broad wings. They normally fly in a v-formation, with their wings higher than their bodies.

Males have a grey top and a white bottom, with a white rump patch. Females have a brown coloration.

Northern Harriers primarily feed on small mammals and birds. They build their nests on the ground among dense vegetation like reeds, willows, and brushtails. They have a clutch of 4-5 dull white eggs.

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