Harris's Hawk

Scientific Name: 

Parabuteo unicinctus



The Harris's hawk is a boldly marked, tricolored, medium-large buteo with long legs and naked lores. Bill large, light blue with a black tip. Plumage coloration bold - dark brown to sooty black. Upper wing-coverts, wing lining, and flanks rusty to chestnut red. Tail dark brown to almost black with white base and terminal band. Iris dark brown. Tarsi, toes, cere, and orbit bright yellow. Harris's hawk juveniles are similar to adults, except underparts streaked with cream or buffy coloration. Eye colour changes from dark brown to light brown in second year.









12 years in wild 25 years in captivity

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they range from the south-western United States through Central America and into much of the drier habitats in South America.


These hawks are found in semiarid habitats like savannahs, chaparrals, scrub prairies, and mesquite and saguaro deserts.


Harris' Hawks search for their mammal, bird, and reptilian and insect prey from a perch or as they are flying. In some areas, family groups will hunt cooperatively. When hunting larger prey, like jackrabbits, hunting in a group will increase their chance of success.


The Harris's Hawk practices simultaneous polyandry. They form groups which aid in the nesting cycle. Most commonly these groups are trios are consisting of two males and a female; both males help with obtaining food and feeding the nestlings and provide nest protection. These groups also practice cooperative feeding. They are able to depend on much larger prey when hunting in groups. This aspect of group hunting and food sharing increases survival rates for birds as individuals.


2-4 white to blueish white eggs; can have pale brown or grey speckling. The eggs have a 33-36 day incubation period. Fledging occurs in 42 days, with the young birds staying within the vicinity of the nest for another 3 or 4 months. The Harris's Hawk builds stick nests, often lined with leaves, moss, bark and plant roots, in trees, bushes, cacti, and on man-made structures. The nest is primarily built by the female.


Harris's Hawks are not listed as threatened or endangered, nor are they included on the list of Wildlife of Special Concern. 400,000 mature individuals estimated.


Did You Know?: 

Harris' Hawks are social birds. Some of the young will stay with the family unit up to 3 years and help raise subsequent broods and hunt cooperatively with the family.

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P. unicinctus



BTO Common: