If you’re a bird enthusiast and a Florida resident or even a visitor, you may be wondering what types of hawks are in Florida. I recently did an article on owls in Florida, so I thought I’d do a super quick one about the hawks of Florida.
7 species of hawks in Florida
When it comes to hawks in Florida, you have 7 different species that can be found in the state. Those species are the Red-tailed Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Short-tailed Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Northern Harrier, and the Cooper’s Hawk. Because of Florida’s warm climate, several of these hawks in this list call Florida home all year long.
1. Red-tailed hawk
Length: 17.7-25.6 in
Weight: 24.3-51.5 oz
Wingspan: 44.9-52.4 in
Red-tailed Hawks are the most common hawks in North America. These large hawks live in Florida and most of North America all year long. They are commonly seen soaring above looking for prey with their amazing vision or perched along the roadside on telephone poles. Learn more about the Red-tailed Hawk here.
2. Red-shouldered Hawk
Length: 16.9-24.0 in
Weight: 17.1-27.3 oz
Wingspan: 37.0-43.7 in
The Red-shouldered hawk is a full time resident to all of Florida, and most of the eastern half of the U.S. They eat mostly small mammals, other birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Red-shouldered Hawks are known for living and nesting in wooded areas and forests. They will commonly re-use the same nest year after year.
The population of Red-shouldered hawks has increased over the last 50 years in their range. The biggest threat to this species is the clearing of wooded areas where they nest and breed. Learn more about the Red-shouldered hawk here.
3. Sharp-shinned Hawk
Length: 9.4-13.4 in
Weight: 3.1-7.7 oz
Wingspan: 16.9-22.1 in
The Sharp-shinned Hawk is the smallest hawk in Canada and the United States. They can be found all over the place in North America, including Florida. However the areas of breeding only, year-round, migrations, and non-breeding are very spotty throughout its range. You can see their range map here.
They are known for stalking backyard feeders. If you see one consider taking down your feeders for a week or two and allowing the hawk to move on. Learn more about the Sharp-shinned hawk here.
4. Short-tailed Hawk
The Short-tailed Hawk is only found in Florida in North America, and is rarely seen even there. Some live year round in the southern tip and the Keys, with a breeding distribution in central Florida. This species is one of the least studied birds in the U.S. so there isn’t a ton of information out there about this hawk, and few pictures on the internet.
Learn more about the Short-tailed Hawk here.
5. Cooper’s Hawk
Length: 14.6-17.7 in
Weight: 7.8-24.0 oz
Wingspan: 24.4-35.4 in
Cooper’s Hawks can sometimes appear to be just a larger version of the Sharp-shinned Hawk (see video below to tell the difference between Cooper’s Hawks and Sharp-shinned Hawks). They can be found in Florida year-round and their range covers most of North America.They are also notorious for stalking feeders and feed almost exclusively on other birds. Their preferred habitat is forests and wooded areas but will also nest in suburban wooded areas and backyards too. Learn more about the Cooper’s hawk here.
6. Broad-winged Hawk
Length: 13.4-17.3 in
Weight: 9.3-19.8 oz
Wingspan: 31.9-39.4 in
The Broad-winged Hawk has a breeding range in the panhandle of Florida, a migration range in the central regions of the state, and a winter range in the southern tip of Florida. Broad-winged Hawks migrate each year by the thousands, these large flocks are called “kettles”. Broad-winged Hawks have one brood each year with 1-5 eggs. The female is in charge of constructing the nest, with help from the male. They will fiercely protect their nesting site and build their nests with at least a half-mile of seperation from other birds of prey. Their diet is consistent with that of most other birds of prey.
7. Northern Harrier
Length: 18.1-19.7 in (46-50 cm)
Weight: 10.6-26.5 oz (300-750 g)
Wingspan: 40.2-46.5 in (102-118 cm)
The Northern Harrier is the only harrier variety of hawks indigenous to North America. Its breeding grounds range as far north as Canada, but it winters in more southern climates, including Florida. They like living and hunting in fields and marshes.
Like owls, Northern Harriers rely on their hearing as well as their vision to hunt, and they sometimes subdue their larger prey by drowning them. Males can have up to five female partners at once, although it’s more common for them to have just one or two.
Northern Harriers are the most owl-like hawks in Florida and North America. They rely heavily on their acute hearing as well as their excellent vision to hunt for prey.
Want to increase your chances of spotting one of these raptors?
Consider some binoculars or a spotting scope!The 5 Best Binoculars For Bird Watching
The 5 Best Spotting Scopes