6 Species Of Hawks In Georgia [Images + Ids]

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Georgia is home to a diverse array of bird species, including several species of hawks. Hawks are birds of prey known for their sharp talons, hooked beaks, and excellent eyesight. They can be found throughout Georgia, from the mountains in the north to the coastal regions in the south. Hawks play an important role in the ecosystem by controlling the populations of smaller animals such as rodents, snakes, and insects. In this blog post, we will explore the different species of hawks found in Georgia and their characteristics, as well as their importance in the state’s ecosystem.

List of Hawks In Georgia

While many of these birds live in Georgia all year round, some only visit during the summer breeding season.
Other birds also spend the winter in Georgia. This guide will also show the frequency of these birds based on the checklists submitted by birdwatchers of Georgia on ebird. Let’s now delve into the specifics and examine each of these species in more depth to learn all there is to know:

  • Red-tailed Hawk
  • Cooper’s Hawk
  • Northern Harrier
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk
  • Broad-winged Hawk
  • Northern Goshawk
  • Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-Tailed Hawk: (Large hawks in Georgia)

The Red-tailed Hawk is a common species in Georgia throughout the year and is the most abundant bird of prey in the state. Red-Tailed Hawk is the second largest Hawk in North America. These majestic birds are frequently observed circling above fields in search of prey. Their diet primarily consists of rodents and small mammals, although they occasionally prey on other birds, reptiles, and various animals. When driving through Georgia’s countryside, it is not uncommon to spot Red-tailed Hawks gracefully soaring through the sky.

Frequency in Georgia: Snowy Egrets have been reported 7% on Summer checklists and 12% on winter checklists by Birdswatchers of Georgia.

Hawks In Georgia

Image: Source

  • Scientific name: Buteo jamaicensis
  • Lifespan: 10-15 years
  • Origin: Native to North America
  • Size: Length 18-26 inches, wingspan 45-52 inches

Red-tailed Hawks have a recognizable short, broad red tail, as their name suggests. They have big, rounded wings and are huge. The majority of Red-tailed Hawks have a brown back and a light underside.
Since they circle slowly over vast areas in search of food including small animals, birds, and reptiles, they are also the most easily seen and are often seen from cars on the roads.
Red-tailed Hawks are still year-round residents of the US and Mexico, although they migrate south for the winter from Alaska, Canada, and the northern Great Plains.
They nest high on rock ledges, large trees, and sometimes on buildings and lay 2-3 pale, brown-spotted eggs.

Cooper’s Hawk:

The Cooper’s Hawk is a hawk species commonly found in Georgia, particularly in wooded areas or on the edges of fields. These hawks are recognized for their remarkable speed, agility, and hunting prowess, enabling them to capture prey that is often larger than themselves.

Frequency in Georgia: Snowy Egrets have been reported at 2% on Summer checklists and 4% on winter checklists by Birdswatchers of Georgia.

Hawks In Georgia

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  • Scientific name: Accipiter cooperii
  • Lifespan: 7-12 years
  • Origin: Native to North America
  • Size: Length 14-20 inches, wingspan 24-35 inches

The Cooper’s Hawk is larger, roughly the size of a crow, and has a striking resemblance to the Sharp-shinned Hawk in appearance. Given that they both have the same blue-gray back, red-orange breasts, and black bands on the tail, it may be challenging to tell them apart.
Unlike the Sharp-shinned Hawk, they have a bigger head that extends far beyond the wings.
The majority of the US is still home to Cooper’s Hawks, although some of them move south for the winter all the way to Mexico and Honduras in the north of their range, which includes Canada.
Watch out for them at woodland edges, however, you may also find them at feeders in search of a quick meal.
They nest in big trees, often on top of an old nest of a large bird or cluster of mistletoe, and feed on medium-sized birds and small animals and lay 2 to 6 bluish-white to light blue eggs.

Northern Harrier:

The Northern Harrier is a hawk species that can be observed in Georgia, where it is often seen flying at low altitudes over grasslands and other open areas.

Frequency in Georgia: Snowy Egrets have been reported at 0% on Summer checklists and 3.5% on winter checklists by Birdswatchers of Georgia.

Image: Source

  • Scientific name: Circus hudsonius
  • Lifespan: 7 years (on average)
  • Origin: Native to North America
  • Size: Length 18-24 inches, wingspan 40-48 inches

Northern harriers are slim with long, wide wings. They often fly in a v-shape with the tips of their wings higher than their body.
Males have a white rump patch and are grey above and white below, while females are brown.
Before traveling south for the winter to southern states, Mexico, and Central America, Northern Harriers breed in Alaska, Canada, the northern Great Plains, and the Northeast.
You may spot this long-tailed, slender hawk soaring low over marshes or grasslands.
The primary prey of northern harriers is small animals and birds. In thick vegetation like reeds, willows, or brushtails, they build their nests on the ground and 4–5 white eggs.

Sharp-shinned Hawk

The Sharp-shinned Hawk is the smallest hawk species found in Georgia and is known for its exceptional athleticism and acrobatic flying abilities. They can be found in North, Central, and South America, and they primarily inhabit coniferous or mixed woodlands, avoiding open areas.

Frequency in Georgia: Snowy Egrets have been reported at 0.1% on Summer checklists and 1.6% on winter checklists by Birdswatchers of Georgia.

Hawks In Georgia

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  • Scientific name: Accipiter striatus
  • Lifespan: 4-5 years
  • Origin: Native to North America
  • Size: Length 9-13 inches, wingspan 16-22 inches

Sharp-shinned hawks have reddish-orange breasts and a blue-gray back. Their tails are covered with black bands.
The size of the females is one-third that of the males. They have tiny heads, short, rounded wings, and long, square-ended tails.
Sharp-shinned Hawks move south after breeding in Canada and certain northern states. These birds might spend the whole year in the Appalachians and Western Mountains.
While they are quite elusive, Sharp-shined Hawks can sometimes be observed flying through wide spaces at the margins of woodlands. They are incredibly swift and can move quickly through deep forests to capture their prey, which is mostly songbirds, as it flies.
Furthermore, Sharp-shined Hawks sometimes may be spotted grabbing small birds near feeders. They often prey on songbirds that are approximately a robin’s size.
The Sharp-shinned Hawk often builds its nests towards the tops of tall fir trees in areas with deep cover. With a circumference of 1-2 feet and a depth of 4-6 inches, the nest is large in size and they lay 3 to 8 speckled white or light blue eggs.

Broad-winged Hawk

The Broad-winged Hawk is a hawk species that can be found across the eastern half of the United States and a significant portion of Canada during the breeding season. They are recognized as the smallest and most migratory Buteo species in eastern North America, and they derive their name from their short and broad wings.

Frequency in Georgia: Snowy Egrets have been reported at 2% on Summer checklists and 0% on winter checklists by Birdswatchers of Georgia.

Image: Source

  • Scientific name: Buteo platypterus
  • Lifespan: 4-5 years
  • Origin: Native to North America
  • Size: Length 13-17 inches, wingspan 31-34 inches

The Broad-winged Hawk is a small, stocky bird that is between a crow and a goose in size. They have barred breasts, short, square tails, and reddish-brown heads.
Prior to migrating in huge numbers to Central and South America in a whirling flock known as a kettle, broad-winged hawks breed in the Eastern States and Canada. So, the autumn migration is often the greatest opportunity to watch them.
These hawks hunt from perches, often near water or wooded areas, and they prey on small animals, frogs, snakes, and even hatchling turtles.
The Broad-winged Hawk often lays two to three pale eggs in the nest of another species, such as a crow.

Red-Shouldered Hawk:

The Red-shouldered Hawk is a medium-sized raptor that is distributed widely throughout North America, and it is considered one of the most common hawk species in Georgia.

Frequency in Georgia: Snowy Egrets have been reported at 16% on Summer checklists and 14% on winter checklists by Birdswatchers of Georgia.

Hawks In Georgia

Image: Source

  • Scientific name: Buteo lineatus
  • Lifespan: 4-8 years
  • Origin: Native to North America, found in parts of the United States and Mexico
  • Size: Length 17-24 inches, wingspan 37-43 inches

The black and white checkered wings and reddish banding on the breast give Red-shouldered Hawks their distinctive markings. They have a tail that is heavily banded and is medium-sized, falling in between crow and swan in size.
The eastern states are home to Red-shouldered Hawks, however, those in the Northeast may go further south for the winter. The West Coast is also home to these hawks.
They often sneak around a stream or pond close to moist woodlands and eat frogs, snakes, and animals.
Red-shouldered Hawks make their nests under a broad-leaved tree close to the water and lay 2 to 5 white or blue eggs.

Final Thoughts:

Georgia is home to a variety of hawk species, each with its own unique characteristics and ecological role. From the powerful Red-tailed Hawk to the agile Cooper’s Hawk, these birds of prey play an important part in maintaining balance in Georgia’s ecosystem by controlling rodent populations and serving as indicators of a healthy environment.

While hawks may sometimes be perceived as a threat to backyard birds or small pets, it is important to remember that they are a protected species and should be admired from a safe distance. As human activities continue to impact natural habitats, it is crucial that we take steps to protect and preserve the habitats that hawks and other wildlife depend on. By educating ourselves on the various hawk species in Georgia and advocating for their protection, we can ensure that these magnificent birds continue to thrive in our state for generations to come.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Where are the best places to go birdwatching for hawks in Georgia?

Some popular places to go birdwatching for hawks in Georgia include the Chattahoochee National Forest, the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, and the Altamaha Wildlife Management Area. Additionally, many state parks and nature preserves throughout the state offer opportunities to spot various species of hawks.

Are there any conservation efforts in place to protect hawks in Georgia?

Yes, there are several conservation efforts in place to protect hawks in Georgia. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources has programs in place to monitor and protect threatened and endangered species of hawks, such as the red-shouldered hawk. Additionally, many organizations throughout the state work to protect and preserve natural habitats for hawks and other birds of prey.

What should I bring with me when birdwatching for hawks in Georgia?

When birdwatching for hawks in Georgia, it’s a good idea to bring binoculars or a spotting scope, as well as a field guide to help you identify the different species of hawks. You should also wear comfortable clothing and shoes, and bring plenty of water and snacks. It’s important to respect the wildlife and their habitats by staying on designated trails and not disturbing nests or roosts.

I'm Nauman Afridi, the bird enthusiast behind Birdsology.com. My lifelong passion for birds has led me to create a space where fellow bird lovers can find valuable insights and tips on caring for our feathered friends.Professionally, I'm a brand strategist and digital marketing consultant, bringing a unique perspective to the world of bird care. Whether you're a novice or an experienced bird owner, Birdsology.com is designed to be a welcoming community for all.Feel free to explore, and reach out if you have any questions or just want to chat about birds.
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