Birds of Prey

Harris' Hawk

Latin name: Parabuteo unicinctus
Weight: Male - 1.5 pounds, Female - 2.2 pounds
Wingspan: 40 - 47 inches
Life expectancy: 10 - 15 years

Habitat and Distribution: Harris' Hawks prefer semi-arid habitats like savannahs and scrub prairies. Their nests are usually placed in saguaros, mesquites, and paloverdes. Urban nests are placed in cottonwood, pine, and palm trees and on transmission towers. Historically, Harris' Hawks were distributed from San Diego, California, east to Louisiana, and into Central and South America. In North America, they now occur from Blythe, California, and east through central and southern Arizona, southeastern New Mexico, and southern Texas. Infrequently, they occur in Kansas, Louisiana, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada.

Diet: Harris' Hawks feed on rabbits, rodents, snakes, lizards, and other birds.

Status: No special status.

Personal Biography: The Nature Center's Harris's Hawk came to us from a wildlife rehabber in Ohio in October of 2003. She was born in captivity and kept illegally in Utah for several years. She was then used as an education bird by a naturalist in Utah before she came to the rehabber that placed her with the Nature Center. When we received the hawk, she was at least 10 years of age.

Facts: Helpers (siblings and other group members) improve nest success by participating in nest building, incubation, feeding, nest defense, and prey deliveries to the young.

Harris's Hawks use cooperative hunting techniques to catch prey. A family group breaks into smaller groups that make "leap frog" flights. If the prey is in the open, the smaller group makes the kill. Otherwise, one or two hawks land and pursue it while the others wait in ambush. If the prey does not come out, individuals will stoop on it, "herding" it toward the other members.

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You can help support the care of our live animal collection by participating in our Sponsor an Animal program. Your financial support funds the cost of medications, food and personal care, as well as proper housing and upkeep of the animal enclosures. Because each animal's needs are different, the cost of sponsorship varies. For information about animals which are currently available for sponsorship call (203)-966-9577.