Hawks are bright, cunning hunters with exceptional sight. They’re also regarded as one of the most bright birds around. Throughout the United States, there are at least 16 different hawk species. Yet, we’ll talk about the nine different hawk species that may be found in Iowa in this article. Iowa works hard to keep these magnificent creatures and other wildlife safe and thriving by dedicating a great deal of time and care to wildlife conservation and rehabilitation efforts. Hawks and raptors of all sorts prefer Iowa because of its plentiful supplies of food.
Let’s go check out Iowa’s vultures of prey right away!
9 SPECIES OF HAWKS OF IOWA
Red-tailed Hawks, Northern Harriers, Sharp-shinned Hawks, Cooper’s Hawks, Northern Goshawks, Red-shouldered Hawks, Broad-winged Hawks, Swainson’s Hawks and Rough-leggedhawks are the nine species of hawks that live in Iowa.
The hawks found in Iowa will be discussed below.
1. RED-TAILED HAWK
Scientific name: Buteo jamaicensis
Length: 17.7 – 25.6 in
Weight: 24.3oz – 51.5 oz
Wingspan: 44.9-52.4 in
The most frequent hawk in North America, Red-tailed Hawks can be found in practically every state year-round. The probability of being the first hawk you see is extraordinarily high because red-tails are so common. They may be seen soaring above open fields or atop barns, fence posts, and telephone poles along the open road in circles.
In Iowa, red-tailed hawks are year-round residents. One of Iowa’s and North America’s largest hawks is the Red-tailed Hawk. Although they aren’t as widespread as some of the other hawks on this list, you may still see one flying by in your neighborhood. They focus on mammals, and if they see a bird at a local feeder, they don’t bother them.
2. NORTHERN HARRIER
Scientific name: Circus hudsonius
Length: 18.1-19.7 in
Weight: 10.6-26.5 oz
Wingspan: 40.2-46.5 in
With their owlish faces, a white patch on their tail, and their distinctive gliding technique, the Northern Harrier is readily identifiable. These birds are described as “majestic” by experts.
During the non-breeding season, you may see the Harrier in Iowa, as well as during the year. In marshes, fields, and other large open places, you may frequently find them.
Little animals are consumed by the Northern Harrier. Harriers, unlike other types of hawks, rely heavily on their hearing to catch their prey.
3. SHARP-SHINNED HAWK
Scientific name: Accipiter striatus
Length: 9.4-13.4 in
Weight: 3.1-7.7 oz
Wingspan: 16.9-22.1 in
The United States’ smallest hawk is the Sharp-shinned Hawk. Little birds and rodents are the prey of these hawks. The major arteries in their prey are punctured using their lengthy toes and talons. Before eating, they will remove the feathers from their catches.
In some regions of Iowa, sharp-shinned hawks may be seen year-round and during non-breeding season. Their flap and glide flight pattern may be seen in open areas. It will be difficult to identify them. During migration, you’ll have a better chance of seeing them.
4. COOPER’S HAWK
Scientific name: Accipiter cooperii
Length: 14.6 – 17.7 in
Weight: 7.8 – 24.0 oz
Wingspan: 24.4-35.4 in
Cooper’s hawks are magnificent birds with exceptional flying skills, but they are also killers. They stay close to prey and are a bird feeders’ or rehabilitators’ worst nightmare, as they include Starlings, Mourning Doves, and Pigeons. There are certain downsides to racing through forestation in order to capture birds. Injuries are a common occurrence among these raptors.
Cooper’s Hawks can be found across Iowa throughout the year and across much of North America. These birds, on the other hand, are difficult to detect because of their stealth. These birds may be identified by their long tails and flap-flap-glide flying style.
5. NORTHERN GOSHAWK
Scientific name: Accipiter gentilis
Length: 20.9-25.2 in
Weight: 22.3-48.1 oz
Wingspan: 40.5-46.1 in
Gray with white stripes above their eyes, goshawks are the most common variety. They’re tough, and nothing—not even their nest—will stop them. Attila the Hun’s helmet may have featured the form of this hawk, which is not surprising.
During the non-breeding season, Northern Goshawks may be found in Iowa. Nonetheless, if you approach the northern border, you’ll have a greater chance of viewing them. It’ll be tough for you to spot these hawks. The dense forests preferred by Northern Goshawks Humans who get too close to their nests have been attacked by them. Therefore, be cautious when looking for these raptors. To see a glimpse of these magnificent fighters, you’ll have to be quite patient.
6. RED-SHOULDERED HAWK
Scientific name: Buteo lineatus
Length: 16.9-24.0 in
Weight: 17.1-27.3 oz
The coloration of red-shouldered hawks is exquisite and highly distinctive. They have a crimson underside with wings and a banded tail, which stands out. They are named after their color.
The eastern border of Iowa is home to red-shouldered hawks. Learning to identify their unique whistle and looking for them in wet woods is one of the best ways to catch a glimpse of these magnificent raptors. They’ll be observed flying high above their nesting location in the spring.
If you watch in the same spot year after year, you’ll be sure to see these Hawks every year that you watch since they’ll nest in the same spot year after year.
7. BROAD-WINGED HAWK
Scientific name: Buteo platypterus
Length: 13.4-17.3 in
Weight: 9.3-19.8 oz
Wingspan: 31.9-39.4 in
During the breeding season, broad-winged hawks like to be in a quiet area. They will build nests in remote areas, like forests and water. Little animals, insects, and amphibians like frogs and toads are eaten by these Hawks.
During the breeding season, broad-winged hawks may be found in Iowa, and during migration period, they may be seen on the western border.
The best chance to see these magnificent Raptors is during migration, when their flocks may include tens of thousands of birds. You can see them in the woods if you aren’t in their migration line. Listen for their shrill whistles if you want.
8. SWAINSON’S HAWK
Scientific name: Buteo swainsoni
Length: 18.9-22.1 in
Weight: 24.4-48.2 oz (
Wingspan: 45-55 in
During the breeding season, Swainson’s Hawks may be found in Iowa’s northwestern border. They’re most likely to be seen in big swaths of open land during the summer. Telephone poles, wires, and quiet trees are where they’ll settle.
Kettles, or migrating hawks, are named for their capacity to hold tens of thousands of gallons. Take a look at these raptors during their migration if you thought Broad-winged hawks were something to see.
As their environment has altered throughout time, Swainson’s Hawks have adapted easily to agricultural settings. In fields and crops, you may see them foraging for prey.
9. ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK
Scientific name: Buteo lagopus
Length: 18.5-20.5 in
Weight: 25.2-49.4 oz
Wingspan: 52.0-54.3 in
During their non-breeding season, Rough-Legged Hawks may be seen all over Iowa. During the winter, you’re likely to be able to see these amazing creatures. They prefer the cold and breed in the Arctic. They’re perching on poles and fence posts in the wide-open spaces of the American landscape.
The feathers on a rough-legged hawk’s legs give it its name. Feathers cover the legs of a small percentage of American Raptors. A nearly 18-year-old female was discovered in Illinois, making her the oldest hawk of this species.