Hawks from Louisiana have everything they need to hunt and nest successfully, thanks to the state’s abundant species. Some species travel hundreds of kilometres each year, only staying in the state for a few weeks, while others stay around all year. The 8 unusual species of hawks found in Louisiana will be discussed in this article!
For centuries, hawks have been employed as falconry hunting companions by humans. Although many species had been declining for decades, several are currently rebounding, thanks in part to the end of DDT usage. From open ground to dense woodland and marshes, hawks like a wide range of habitats. So you may find them all around Louisiana, as well. The Cooper’s Hawk is the first species on the list, so let’s take a look at it!
HAWKS IN LOUISIANA
1. COOPER’S HAWK
Scientific name: Accipiter cooperii
Length: 14.6-15.3 in (37-39 cm)
Weight: 7.8-14.5 oz (220-410 g)
Wingspan: 24.4-35.4 in (62-90 cm)
Length: 16.5-17.7 in (42-45 cm)
Weight: 11.6-24.0 oz (330-680 g)
Wingspan: 29.5-35.4 in (75-90 cm)
Cooper’s Hawks are common year-round in much of Louisiana, including many suburban communities where they feast on tiny birds visiting household bird feeders.
Instead of biting their meal, these birds use their powerful feet to squeeze them to death. However, diving on smaller birds may have a negative impact on them: Cooper’s Hawk skeletons examined had healed fractures from hunting accidents, according to one research.
2. NORTHERN HARRIER
Scientific name: Circus hudsonius
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)
In North America, the Northern Harrier is the only indigenous hawk species. It spends the winter in warmer climes, such as Louisiana, and has breeding grounds that extend north to Canada. They prefer to survive by hunting and foraging in fields and marshes.
Northern Harriers, like owls, hunt by hearing as well as sight, and they may drown their larger prey if they cannot subdue them. Although it is more common for males to have just one or two female partners at a time, they may have up to five.
3. SHARP-SHINNED HAWK
Scientific name: striatus
Length: 9.4-13.4 in (24-34 cm)
Weight: 3.1-7.7 oz (87-218 g)
Wingspan: 16.9-22.1 in (43-56 cm)
Woodlands and forests are preferred habitats for these little hawks. During the winter, they journey south from Canada to warmer climes such as Louisiana, and while they do so at a time, they do so individually rather than in any organized flocks.
The United States’ smallest hawk is the Sharp-shinned Hawk. Hawkers are watched moving south during organized hawk-watches in several regions of the nation. To prevent themselves from swallowing the feathers, sharp-shinned Hawks take them off of their victims before eating them.
4. RED-SHOULDERED HAWK
Scientific name: Buteo lineatus
Length: 16.9-24.0 in (43-61 cm)
Weight: 17.1-27.3 oz (486-774 g)
Wingspan: 37.0-43.7 in (94-111 cm)
In Louisiana, red-shouldered Hawks may be found in swamps, bottomland woods, and deciduous woodlands near streams and rivers all year. For many years, they return to the same nesting locations.
Little rodents are the major source of food for these hawks, but they will also consume snakes, frogs, and other reptiles. Red-shouldered Hawks’s nestlings are occasionally hunted by Great Horned Owls.
5. WHITE-TAILED HAWK
Scientific name: Geranoaetus albicaudatus
Length: 18.1-22.8 in (46-52 cm)
Weight: 31.0-43.6 oz (880-1235 g)
Wingspan: 50.4-51.6 in (128-131 cm)
The White-tailed Hawk is a common resident of the Texas coast and south into Mexico, although it is a rare visitor to southern Louisiana from time to time. They perch on tall trees or fence posts and wait for prey in open grassland area.
White-tailed Hawks wait by brush fires, hoping to capture fleeing prey creatures. They continue to add more nest materials even after the eggs in it have been incubated, and they embellish their nests with one extra-long stick that doesn’t seem to have any function.
6. ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK
Only in the winter do Rough-legged Hawks migrate south from their breeding grounds in the Arctic. Even then, they could only be seen on rare occasions in Louisiana. These birds may be seen around airports and appreciate open areas.
Throughout the non-nesting season, adult Rough-legged Hawks consume roughly a tenth of their body weight in food. They are believed to be able to see rodent urine and follow the paths of their prey because they can detect some ultraviolet light.
7. BROAD-WINGED HAWK
Scientific name: Buteo platypterus
Length: 13.4-17.3 in (34-44 cm)
Weight: 9.3-19.8 oz (265-560 g)
Wingspan: 31.9-39.4 in (81-100 cm)
During the winter, Broad-winged Hawks go south to Central and South America, but spend their breeding season in eastern North America, particularly Louisiana. They depart in droves during the autumn, drawing numerous hawk-watching parties along their migratory route.
These hawks prefer wooded areas during the nesting season, making them difficult to see. They prefer to be near water in more secluded areas. They eat a wide range of insects, in addition to small rodents, reptiles, and amphibians. Instead of snatching anything out of the air, the Broad-winged Hawk prefers to hunt its prey on the ground.
8. RED-TAILED HAWK
Scientific name: Buteo jamaicensis
Length: 17.7-22.1 in (45-56 cm)
Weight: 24.3-45.9 oz (690-1300 g)
Wingspan: 44.9-52.4 in (114-133 cm)
Length: 19.7-25.6 in (50-65 cm)
Weight: 31.8-51.5 oz (900-1460 g)
Wingspan: 44.9-52.4 in (114-133 cm)
In North America, the Red-tailed Hawk is by far the most common hawk. They prefer open ground regions with high places for perching to hunt for prey year-round and are native to Louisiana.
When traveling through the country by car, these hawks are often seen perched on telephone poles near roadways. One of the most popular species used for falconry hunting is the red-tailed hawk, which is easy to train. Want to learn more about Red-tailed Hawks? Here’s a good article on the Red-tailed Hawk, including some interesting facts.
WHERE TO SEE HAWKS IN LOUISIANA:
After smaller birds or a Red-tailed Hawk perched on a telephone pole when you head to the grocery store, some hawks are simple to identify. Cooper’s Hawks swooping down in your backyard are one example. The more difficult species, on the other hand, may need a little extra effort to locate. There are several natural reserves, parks, and other places to go birdwatching in Louisiana.
There are numerous chances to view these mobile groups in various sections of the state throughout the fall since so many hawks are migratory visitors and from Louisiana. In September and October, the state’s southwestern coastal regions are home to thousands of Broad-winged Hawks.
Sharp-shinned Hawks, Red-tailed Hawks, and Northern Harriers are among the first visitors to arrive in November. Local groups, such as the Baton Rouge Audubon Society and the Orleans Audubon Society, are great sources for discovering localities where you may view the hawks mentioned here.
The Great Louisiana Birdfest in Mandeville, for example, is a fantastic place to see hawks and other birds, as well as a pleasant opportunity to meet other birders.
Many of the animals may be seen at Louisiana State Parks, and some parks have particular hawk-watching events. Every part of the state is traversed by a variety of birding paths. In addition to providing excellent information about other wildlife, Audubon Louisiana provides excellent resources for beginning your birding trips.