Harris’s Hawk Facts: Animals Of North America

The Dusty or Bay-Winged hawk, also known as the Harris’s Hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus), is a reasonably big bird of prey that has a range that stretches from the southwestern United States down into the southern half of South America.

Description of Character

These hawks have striking dark-brown, chestnut, red, and white markings that make them stand out. They have yellow patterns on their cheeks and rather lengthy, yellow legs.

Adults range in length from 1.5 to 1.9 feet (46 to 59 cm), with wingspans often extending between 3.4 and 3.9 feet. Their tails also have white tips (103 and 120 centimeters).

About 35% more ladies than males are more prominent than average.

The Harris’s Hawk has three subspecies: P. u. harris, which can be found in Texas, Central America, and Mexico; P. u. superior, which can be found in western Mexico and Arizona; and P. u. unicinctus, which is smaller than its North American relatives and only occurs in the wild in South America.

The White-Rumped hawks of South America and Harris’s hawks are both members of the same genus.

Their scientific name, Parabuteo unicinctus, is a combination of Latin and Greek words that roughly means like a buzzard with a single girdle, about the white band surrounding the tips of each of their tails.


These raptors primarily consume lizards, oversized insects, small mammals, smaller birds, and other vulnerable animals. With the ability to take down larger prey like jackrabbits, desert cottontails, or great blue herons, hawks frequently hunt in groups of up to six.

This is why, compared to most other raptors of a similar size, they have specific traits specialized to this role, such as more substantial feet with long nails and more extensive and more noticeable hooked beaks, enabling them to manage such massive carcasses.

When hunting, they frequently encircle and flush out their target so that others may catch it, or they will physically take turns chasing the prey until it is weary and submits. Two to six hawks usually make up the hunting parties.

Range And Habitat

Most of Harris’s hawks’ habitats are open, including thinly forested forests, semiarid areas, mangrove swamps, and marshlands. These birds do not frequently migrate since they live there permanently.

Although few have been documented in Western Europe, they are primarily found in North America. Because falconry is a popular sport with this species, some may have escaped from falconers’ confinement there.

They like dispersed, big trees for building their nests. Other prospective residences with characteristics favored by hawks are woodland boundaries, dead trees that are still standing, power lines, and even rocks.

Because they construct their nests so high above the ground, predators cannot quickly access them, which helps explain why Harris’s hawk is not now categorized as one of the vulnerable or endangered species of birds.

They are vital in numbers because of their gregarious nature and are adept at making alarm sounds to warn others and annoy possible predators like coyotes, ravens, and great-horned owls.

Harris’s hawks are frequently employed in falconry, a practice where people teach birds of prey to hunt, kill, and recover animals even though they hardly ever track themselves.

Nevertheless, the loss of habitat by human land development activities has made their natural populations more vulnerable in recent years.


In contrast to other lonely raptors, Harris’s hawk is a rather gregarious bird and, as was already noted, frequently lives and hunts in groups.

Additionally, they are relatively tolerant of people, which has made them popular with falconers and in aviaries and other environments where birds are taught.

Their gregarious behavior also makes visiting nests easier while working together. After hatching, young Harris’s hawks can fledge (be physically ready to fly) anywhere between 45 and 50 days later. A Harris’s hawk will typically survive for 15 to 20 years.


The eggs typically hatch in 31 to 36 days, with the female hawk doing most of the incubation. It has been noted that two males frequently tend to one female during mating, but it is unclear what the second male’s function is most of the time.

When the chicks are about 38 days old, they start to go outside the nest. Two or three times a year, a female Harris’s hawk may lay eggs, and she is known to be very protective of her young, remaining with them for up to three years.

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