Harris Hawk 2011

Half Moon Bay, California 2011

A handsome hawk of the arid Southwest, Harris’s Hawk is a standout with bold markings of dark brown, chestnut red, and white, long yellow legs, and yellow markings on its face. The most social of North American raptors, these birds are often found in groups, cooperatively attending nests and hunting together as a team. When hunting, a group of hawks surround their prey, flush it for another to catch, or take turns chasing it. This hawk’s social nature and relative ease with humans has made it popular among falconers and in education programs.

Adult Description
Medium-sized to large hawk. Dark overall. White rump and undertail. White tip to dark tail. Chestnut-red thighs and shoulders. Legs and bare face skin yellow.

Immature Description
Juvenile similar to adults, except underparts streaked with cream or buffy coloration; amount of light color variable. Rufous patches reduced and dullish. Underwing has whitish primaries, conspicuous in flight. Tail crossed with many fine dusky bars; base and tip white.

Cool Facts

  • The Harris's Hawk nests in social units that vary from an adult pair, to as many as seven individuals, including both adults and immatures.
  • Cooperatively hunting groups of Harris's Hawks are more successful at capturing prey than individuals hunting alone. Hawks with more than two members in their group have higher survival rates.
  • Although most North American Harris's Hawks nest in spring (March through June), some females lay a second and even a third clutch regardless of whether their first breeding attempt fails or succeeds. Eggs or young have been recorded in every month of the year. Multiple clutches often occur when plentiful food is available.
  • Older nestlings and subadults sometimes seem to play by chasing insects, or jumping on sticks in an imitation of prey capture.
  • Electrocution from unshielded power poles is a danger to Harris’s Hawks—they can be killed or lose limbs—but other members of the group sometimes come to the aid of injured individuals, providing them with food.
  • The oldest known wild Harris’s Hawk in the wild was at least 15 years old when it was retrapped and released during banding operations in New Mexico. A captive female lived to be 25 years old.


Harris Hawk Range Map

Range Map

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