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Harris’s Hawk Facts

Common Name(s): Bay-Winged Hawk, Dusky Hawk

Scientific Name: Parabuteo unicinctus

Approximate Wing Span: 40.6–48.8 in, 103–124 cm

Approximate Life Span: 12 Years

Natural Habitat: North & South American Scrub


The Harris’s Hawk is a medium to large-sized raptor with an overall dark brown appearance and white tail. This bird of prey also has reddish shoulders and thighs with yellow bare skin legs. Juvenile Harris’s Hawks are analogous to adults with the exception of white coloration on the belly and under the wings.


This hawk is native to North and South America and is primarily spotted in southern United States, Mexico and Central America. You will typically find the Harris’s Hawk in arid lowland and montane scrub as well as in desert suburban areas. You can also witness this hawk soaring in tropical deciduous forests and grasslands. However, this species is not known to reside in large tropical forests and generally prefers savanna, arid scrub and desert lands.

Food & Hunting

Harris’s Hawks are very family oriented when hunting and tend to assist each other when surveying the landscape below for prey. In fact, they are known to use each other as perches in order to get a better view of their surroundings. These raptors usually hunt in in groups of five hawks and devise intricate plans to catch prey. Their most common tactic is to have one hawk plunge into a bush driving the prey out. The other four birds then take attempts to catch the prey.

This bird of prey primarily hunts on rodents, rabbits, lizards and other birds. Thus, if you rescued a Harris’s Hawk, we suggest feeding it frozen rodents including mice, rats and rabbits.


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