Hawks are diurnal prey birds with sharp, curved talons and powerful beaks. You can come across more than 270 species of hawks on the planet nowadays.
The most common hawk species available in Georgia are Red-Shouldered Hawk, Broad-Winged Hawk, Red-Tailed Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk, Sharp-Shinned Hawk, and Northern Harrier. Let us explore the features and characteristics of each bird in detail.
You can find a lot of red-shouldered hawks in Georgia. These medium-sized birds come with white and dark feathers that cover the body in a checked pattern as in photo at top of this page. The under-bellies of these hawks are covered by warm brown feathers. The banded tail of Red-Shouldered hawks comes with black stripes. The length of these birds is between 16.9 and 24 inches. Most of these species weigh between 17 and 27.3 ounces. The wingspan ranges from 37 to 43.7 inches.
The scientific name of this species is Buteo Lineatus. You can spot them near forest areas, especially in areas close to flooded swamps. These birds eat mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and other birds. They prefer to nest in wooded areas. The territorial nature of these hawks motivates them to attack howls and crows. They love to use the same nest year after year.
As the name suggests, perched birds clearly reveal their red shoulders. Red-shouldered hawks are permanent residents of Georgia State. If you get very close to your nest, these birds will attack you. The mating display of males is known as sky dance. They make a series of dives, which looks like a sky dance. The females lay 2 to 5 bluish or white eggs.
Red-shouldered hawks are more prevalent in the southern regions of the State of Georgia. The fragmentation of forest habitats has been making a negative impact on the survival of these birds. The life expectancy of these hawks is much lesser compared to their species. They live around for two years.
A distinctive short and wide red tail makes these birds appealing and unique. The tail is covered in warm brown and rusty-colored feathers. The Red-tailed hawks are larger compared to many other hawk species. They also have broad, rounded wings. You can find brown color on the back and pale underneath of these species. A brown speckled band across the breast can also be seen on these birds. They feed primarily on small mammals and rodents but occasionally eat reptiles and other birds.
The length of the male birds ranges between 17.7 and 22.1 inches. Red-Tailed Hawk males weigh between 24.3 and 45.9 ounces. The wingspan of male birds varies from 44.9 to 52.4 inches. The length of female birds lies within the range of 19.7 and 25.6 inches. The weight varies between 32 and 51.5 ounces. The wingspan ranges from 45 to 52 inches.
You can spot these birds in Georgia easily. They often hover over the open fields to find prey. Red-tailed hawks build their nests on cliff edges, tall trees, and tall towers or buildings. The life expectancy ranges from 10 to 15 years.
As the name suggests, these birds have wide and broad wings. The size of these compact, stocky hawks is between a goose and a crow. With a combination of narrowly banded shirt square tails, barred breasts, and reddish-brown heads, Broad-winged hawks prefer to stay in and around woodland areas or forests that are close to water bodies. You can find them frequently in the northern regions of Georgia during the breeding season (between April and October). These migratory birds stay active during the breeding time.
Broad-winged hawks prey on small amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and even other birds. The scientific name of this species is Buteo Platypterus. It is easier to hear them than to spot them. These birds often nest at secret sites and come back to the same spot each year. They will protect their nesting site fiercely and keep it at least half a mile away from other prey birds.
The length of these hawks ranges between 13.4 and 17.3 inches. The weight varies between 9.3 and 19.8 ounces. These birds come with a wingspan between 31.9 and 39.4 inches. Broad-winged hawks prefer to stay in the canopy most of the time. The female birds lay two to three whitish eggs. During the summer season, these birds may even feed on insects.
Bird lovers can easily identify the piercing whistle on a single pitch instantly. When it comes to hunting, Broad-winged hawks sit and wait for prey while perched on treetops. The life expectancy of these birds is around 20 years.
With large heads and medium-sized bodies, Cooper’s hawks are well-known for their fast and powerful flights. These birds come with a red-orange breast and blue-gray back. The back wings have a slate grey color. They usually eat small mammals and medium-sized birds.
Although Cooper’s hawks prefer forests and wooded areas, you can find their nests in suburban wooded areas and backyards. The female birds lay 3 to 5 eggs. These birds can be seen throughout all seasons in Georgia. However, the number increases during the winter season. The average life expectancy of Cooper’s hawk is up to 12 years.
The length of the males stays between 14.6 and 15.3 inches. The weight ranges from 7.8 to 14.5 ounces. The wingspan of male birds ranges between 24.4 and 35.4 inches. The length of female Cooper’s hawks is in the 16.5 to 17.7 range. The female hawks weigh between 11.6 and 24 inches. The wingspan range stays between 29 and 35 inches.
The pale brown bellies and the contrasting dark brown feathers make Sharp-skinned hawks unique. You can find dark bands across the tails. There is a blue-gray color across the back. They are the smallest hawks that you can find in Georgia. Their secretive nature makes them extremely difficult to spot.
These species build the nests on trees in deep forests. Their diet consists of small species of songbirds. The scientific name of these birds is Accipiter Striatus. The female birds lay 3 to 8 eggs. These hawks are not very common in Georgia.
The length of these birds ranges between 9 and 13.5 inches. They weigh only between 3.1 and 7.7 ounces. The wingspan range is between 16.9 and 22.1 inches. The small head and featherless and bright orange legs are the features that help you distinguish these birds from other species such as Cooper’s hawks. The life expectancy of these birds is around 3 years.
As the winter season arrives, you can find a lot of Northern Harrier hawks in Georgia. These long-tailed, slender hawks glide low over marshes and grasslands to find prey. You can come across small brown patches on their white bellies. Pale grey feathers constitute the wings of Northern Harrier. These birds have a very aggressive and territorial nature.
You can spot them in low vegetation areas, especially in wetland or grassland spaces. These birds lay 4 to 5 white eggs. They usually eat small birds and mammals. The scientific name of these species is Circus Cyaneus. You can find them flying with their wingtips in a V-shape, often higher than their bodies.
The length of the Northern Harrier ranges between 18.1 and 19.7 inches. These birds weigh between 10.6 and 26.5 ounces. The wingspan of these hawks is in the range of 40 and 46.5 inches. They are relatively small in size compared to many other hawks in Georgia. These hawk species live up to 16 years.
Apart from these common hawk species, you can also find a few Osprey Hawks, Rough-Legged Hawks, Short-Tailed Hawks, and Swainson’s Hawks in Georgia. Hawks play a very vital role in maintaining the ecological balance of the earth. With so many enrapturing hawks belonging to different species, Georgia is a perfect destination for ardent bird watches and hawk lovers.