Tag Archives: Raptor

Harris Hawk – Parabuteo Unicinctus

Harris Hawk

The Harris Hawk, also known as the Harris’s Hawk or the Bay-winged Hawk, is a medium-sized bird of prey native to the Americas. Its scientific name is Parabuteo unicinctus, and it is a member of the Buteoninae subfamily of hawks. Harris Hawks are highly social birds and are known for their unique hunting strategies, making them a popular species among birdwatchers and falconers alike.Harris Hawks are easily identified by their unique coloration and social behavior.

General Information:

The Harris Hawk is a relatively large bird, with a wingspan of up to 1.2 meters (4 feet) and a body length of up to 56 cm (22 inches). They have a distinctive black cap and a reddish-brown body with white on their legs, chest, and shoulders. Their wings are broad and rounded, and they have a long tail that is barred with white and black.

How to Identify:

Harris Hawks are easily identified by their unique coloration and social behavior. Their reddish-brown bodies with white on their legs, chest, and shoulders, along with their black cap and barred tail, make them stand out in the sky. They are also highly social birds, often seen in groups of 2-6 birds hunting together.

Preferred Habitat:

Harris Hawks prefer arid and semi-arid habitats, such as deserts, grasslands, and savannas. They are often found in open areas with scattered trees or shrubs, which provide perches for hunting and nesting.


Harris Hawks are native to the Americas, ranging from the southwestern United States to South America. They are found in countries such as Mexico, Argentina, and Chile, and are the most common hawk in Central America.


Harris Hawks are not migratory birds, and they are considered year-round residents in their preferred habitats.Harris Hawks are opportunistic predators and will hunt a wide range of prey


Harris Hawks are opportunistic predators and will hunt a wide range of prey, including birds, mammals, reptiles, and insects. They are often seen hunting in groups, with one bird flushing prey while the others wait to strike. They are also known to hunt cooperatively with other birds, such as the Crested Caracara, to take down larger prey.


Harris Hawks are monogamous and typically mate for life. During courtship, the male performs aerial displays, including high circling flights and steep dives, to impress the female.


Harris Hawks typically build their nests in the forks of trees, shrubs, or cacti. They are also known to use artificial structures, such as power poles or buildings. The female lays 2-4 eggs, which both parents will incubate for about a month.

Egg Description:

Harris Hawk eggs are white and oval-shaped, measuring about 50 mm (2 inches) in length and 40 mm (1.5 inches) in width.

Raising Young:

Both parents will care for the young, bringing them food and defending the nest from predators. The young fledge after about 6-7 weeks and will continue to be cared for by the parents for several more weeks. Harris Hawks are known to be cooperative breeders, with other members of the family group helping to care for the young.

In conclusion, the Harris Hawk is a fascinating bird of prey with unique social behaviors and hunting strategies. Their preference for arid habitats and cooperation with other birds make them a truly remarkable species to observe in the wild.


BirdLife International. (2018). Parabuteo unicinctus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T22696356A132054180. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2018

American Kestrel

American Kestrel


I think the American Kestrel, also known as Sparrow Hawk, is the most inconspicuous American bird of prey. They often sit on phone/power lines and unless you look closely they will appear like American Kestrelany other Jay sized bird. The only really distinguishing aspect of the American Kestrel’s silhouette is its beak – close to its face and hooked. If you stop and look, you will be surprised at how many you see. The American Kestrel is the most abundant falcon in North America.

Kestrels nest in cavities in trees, cliffs, buildings, and other structures. The female usually lays 4 – 7 eggs white to cream in color with brown or grey splotching. The chicks hatch in between 29-31 days and are helpless. They fledge in 30-31 days

American Kestrel – Falco SparveriusThe American Kestrel basic vocalization is killy-killy-killy at times a rapid series – klee, klee, klee, klee can be heard. The American Kestrel is a common bird to be used in falconry – in areas it may be one of a limited number available to the beginner.


At about the size of a Jay, the American Kestrel is the smallest falcon in North America. They are roughly 9” – 12” and have a wingspan of up to 21”. They weigh approximately 3 – 6 oz. Males have blue-grey wings with black spots and white undersides with black barring. The back is rusty, with barring on the lower half. The belly and flanks are white with black spotting. The tail is also rusty, with a white or rusty tip and a black subterminal band. The back and wings of the female American Kestrel are rusty with dark brown barring. The undersides of the females are creamy to buff with heavy brown streaking. The tail is rusty with numerous narrow dark black bars. The wings are moderately long, fairly narrow, and taper to a point. When in flight their silhouette is classic falcon – just mini-sized.


American Kestrels are found in a wide variety of habitats, including grasslands, meadows, deserts, Sparrow Hawk – american Kestrel and other open to semi-open regions. They can also be found in towns, cities and suburban areas.


The American Kestrel has an extensive range. It breeds from Alaska across northern Canada to Nova Scotia, and south throughout the USA, into central Mexico and the Caribbean down though South America to Tierra del Fuego.


Most Kestrels breeding in Alaska and Northern Canada will migrate down into British Columbia, New England and south in the winter.


American Kestrels feed largely on small animals such as grasshoppers, insects, lizards, mice, small snakes and small mammals and small birds – House Sparrows are commonly taken. I have seen them attack Chickadees and Juncos at me backyard feeder. Prey is almost always caught on the ground rather than in the air like other falcons such as the Peregrine.