If you’re a bird enthusiast and a Georgia resident or visitor, you may be wondering what types of hawks are in Georgia. I recently did an article about the hawks in Florida, so I thought I’d do a quick one about the hawks of Georgia as well.
6 species of hawks in Georgia
When it comes to hawks in Georgia, you have 6 different species that can be found in the state. Those species are the Red-tailed Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Northern Harrier, and the Cooper’s Hawk.
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 Georgia 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. Red-tailed Hawks are the largest hawks in Georgia and feed primarily on rodents and small mammals but will occasionally take other birds, reptiles, and other available food. 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 Georgia, 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. While the name suggests only red shoulders, most of the Red-shouldered Hawk’s underparts are reddish in color. Learn more about the Red-shouldered hawk here.
3. 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 state of Georgia and the eastern half of the United States. They migrate each year by the thousands, these large flocks are called “kettles”. Broad-winged Hawks in Georgia are most often seen from early April through early October while they are nesting and breeding.
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 separation from other birds of prey. Their diet consists of small mammals, reptiles and amphibians, and sometimes other birds.
4. 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 of hawks in Georgia, as well as the rest of North America. They are widespread and common in the United States, including Georgia. However they have a non-breeding population throughout the state and migrate far north each year to breed. You can see their range map here.
Sharp-shinned Hawks are known for stalking backyards and lurking around bird feeders, songbirds are their main food source. If you see one in your backyard, consider taking down your feeders for a few days and allow the hawk to move on before putting them back out. Learn more about the Sharp-shinned 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). You can find Cooper’s Hawks in Georgia year-round and their range covers most of North America. Like the Sharp-shinned Hawk, 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. 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 Georgia. 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 Georgia and North America. They rely heavily on their acute hearing as well as their excellent vision to hunt for prey.