Bird Feeder Hub is reader-supported. When you click and buy we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you.

The 7 Most Common Species of Hawks in Florida (Pictures)

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 quick one about the hawks of Florida. Because of Florida’s warm climate and diverse habitats, there are several species of hawks found in the state, below are 7 of them. 

7 species of hawks in Florida

The 7 species of hawks found in Florida 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

credit: Amendezg at en.wikipedia | CC 3.0

Length: unknown  
Weight: unknown
Wingspan: unknown  

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

Broad-winged hawk (Image: Andrew Cannizzaro | CC BY 2.0 | wikicommons)

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

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.

Fun fact:

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

21 thoughts on “The 7 Most Common Species of Hawks in Florida (Pictures)”

  1. We saw a large grey feathered hawk? silently swoop down and grab a dove by our bird feeder. We live in coastal central west Florida. Trying to find out if it was a grey hawk but researching shows either rare north of Mexico or this hawk is not in our region. Any thoughts?

    • Hey Susan, yeah I don’t think Gray Hawks are found in Florida. Adult Cooper’s Hawks are blueish-gray on top and commonly stalk bird feeders so that’s a possibility.

      • I’m also seeing a gray hawk or falcon in NE Coastal Florida. It’s about the size of a large pigeon/small hawk and is all gray (head, stomach, under wings). I’ve only been able to see it flying so I don’t know the colors of it’s back. I’m getting the same search results as Susan that these birds are north of Mexico. Either way, it’s a beautiful bird.

  2. I just saw a hawk in ocala florida (rolling hills) over 2ft lenth and atleast 4ft wing span. This is no BS! Ive seen many hawks around/on our property so, I know how big they usually r but this one was HUGE! How is this possible??

    • Hawks come in all shapes and sizes! I can’t say for sure which hawk you saw but red-tailed hawks are fairly common in your area and they can be as large as you described. It’s also possible you saw another large bird of prey like an eagle or an osprey.

  3. I have a photograph of a hawk that we’re trying to identify but it doesn’t look like the photographs that are posted here. Anyway you could help me identify this beautiful bird?

  4. Hi! I keep chickens in my backyard and there is a red shouldered hawk (I think) that has been coming to sit on the fence and watch them. There is no access from above because the chickens range under a large tree. It’s a fairly small hawk, but we saw it with a squirrel not too long ago. Is it possible for the hawk to kill a chicken at close range? Or is that hawk just window shopping?

    • Hi Kelly, it’s hard to say. Larger hawks, eagles and owls have all been known to go after chickens. A red shouldered hawk could try and go after chickens if they wanted to. I have seen some people say they have spotted them hanging around their chickens, but have only ever seen them eating squirrels. Maybe the squirrels are attracted to the chicken feed or something else about the chicken coop area and thus the hawks are drawn in by the squirrel activity and not necessarily the chickens. So it could really go either way, keep an eye on what the hawk is up to. Might not be a bad idea to start thinking about some netting or enclosures for the chickens for more protection. If you look around YouTube some people have made videos about how they protect their chickens from hawks that might give you some ideas. Good luck!

  5. I live in Central Florida, and have Kite Hawks here. There’s been a total of 4 flying around & perched in trees in my backyard at one point. They’re beautiful birds and make the funniest sound.

  6. I recently saw a kestrel pinning and eating a small lizard on my lawn when suddenly a Cooper’s Hawk pounced on the kestrel and carried it, and the lizard, away.

  7. We are fairly new to this part of florida, northcentral, about 50 miles due north of Tampa. Live in the country. Have frequently seen a large hawk, in our yard and around the property. The crows always chase it away, tho. I have tried to google and see what it is. The distinguishable thing is noticed is, it has two wide white stripes across both wings. The overall color seems to be like a red hawk….

    • Hi Barbara – unfortunately it is very hard to ID a bird just based on someone’s description, especially hawks with their variable plumage. Sometimes the best trick is to go to Google and type in as many descriptives as you can think of and look through the photos and see if you can find it. The only bird that comes to mind when you say it looks like a hawk but has definite white stripes on the wings is the Common Nighthawk. Not an actual hawk, despite the name!

  8. Do hawks eat rabbits in Florida? We live in Jacksonville and have rabbits that like to play in the yard. We have a lot of hawks around. How what size/weight is too big for hawks?

    • Yes, many hawks will eat rabbits. If you have pet rabbits in the yard I wouldn’t leave them unsupervised. Try to give them some cover and stay close by. If you can’t supervise them, having them in a hutch or some type of enclosure would be safest.

  9. Our acreage is host to many small birds including annual nesting for
    Pileated woodpeckers, Red-bellied woodpeckers, Red cockaded woodpeckers
    Split tail terns
    Broad-winged hawks, Red-tailed hawks
    Screech-owl, Short-eared Owl, Great Horned Owl
    Sadly, all will be disrupted due to highway progress that will eminent domain this bird paradise. Efforts to get a lane shift north (10 feet) to avoid disruption has been futile. 🙁

  10. I moved to an area in Jacksonville Fl recently in a neighborhood called Fish Eagle where there are small ponds and it is known to have turtles, geese, fish, etc… I have 3 small dogs with the smallest being a yorkie of about 3.5#. I just just saw a large all brown Eagle or Hawk fly slowly out of the tree in the back and no joke its wing span was at least 3 foot and maybe 4 foot. It flew very slowly out of the tree and hovered over my house ONLY about 30 feet up and then flew away. I was outside with my dogs and of course am very worried about this. WHat would be the best way to deter this bird from my yard as I have already placed many large shiny hanging ornaments to no avail. ALso, can anyone please tell me the type of bird this may have been? thank you

    • Hawks are harder to deter than smaller birds but we have some ideas in this article HERE. Unfortunately if the hawks are catching food in/around those ponds, they are likely to always be around. But they are also much more likely to go after turtles and squirrels than a dog.

Comments are closed.