Hawks In New Hampshire (8 Species With Photos)

The Hawks are powerful predators. Their keen hearing, eye vision, and razor-sharp beak and talons all come together to make them expert predators. Humans have benefited from the hunting abilities of hawks throughout history, via training and falconry. Around the United States, there are approximately 16 different types of hawks. However, the eight species of hawks found in New Hampshire will be discussed in this article.


Broad-winged hawk, Coopers hawk, northern goshawk, northern harrier, red-tailed hawk, red-shouldered hawk, rough-legged hawk, and sharp-shinned hawk are the eight species of hawks that may be found in New Hampshire.

Let’s take a look at each one.


Scientific nameButeo platypterus

Length: 13.4-17.3 in

Weight: 9.3-19.8 oz

Wingspan: 31.9-39.4 in

During the spring-summer breeding season, broad-winged hawks migrate north to New Hampshire. The head and chest of these little hawks are brown, with black and white stripes on their tail. Their short tail and broad wings with pointed tips are visible in flight.

During the breeding season, these hawks prefer to stay away from humans. Far from humans, they will nest in woodlands and beside bodies of water. Little creatures like frogs and toads, as well as insects and amphibians.

During the autumn migration back to South America, if you’re hoping to glimpse a broad-winged hawk, your best bet is now. Flocks of birds called “kettles” fly around in the sky, each with hundreds of others. You may see them in the woods if you aren’t in their migration route. Listen for their shrill whistles, and you’ll hear them.


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 may be found across New Hampshire and much of North America. During the breeding season here, they are most common in the spring and summer. Adults have a red eye, a squared-off head with a black hat, and a bluish-gray back with heavy orange barring on the chest. The eyes of immature birds are yellow, the back is brown, and the underparts are white with strong brown streaks.

They seem to be quite comfortable in the suburbs, as well as forests and woodlands. Little birds are their primary food source, and they hunt them expertly among the tree branches. Cooper’s hawks are frequently seen in people’s gardens, where they’ve been known to attack birds at bird feeders, notably starlings, doves, and pigeons.

During a fast pursuit of birds, crashing through trees and foliage takes a toll on Cooper’s hawk skeletons, with several of them having fractured bones in their chest at one point.


Scientific nameAccipiter gentilis

Length: 20.9-25.2 in

Weight: 22.3-48.1 oz

Wingspan: 40.5-46.1 in

The back of the goshawk is gray, with a thick stripe across each eye that stretches down the belly. The chest of the goshawk is barred with a gray color. The sharp-shinned and cooper’s hawk are their larger and fiercer cousins. Goshawks, on the other hand, are quite secretive and prefer to stay in the forest rather than frequent human inhabited regions.

Northern goshawks have been sighted in New Hampshire throughout the year, and they may be found all year. However, since they prefer to nest in ancient woodland with deep canopy, you’ll have to put in a little effort to locate one. Humans who get too close to their nests have been known to be attacked by them. Therefore, when looking for these raptors during breeding season, be careful.

Little hawks, birds, mammals, reptiles, and even insects and carrion make up the varied diet of the northern goshawk. Their population is difficult to determine since they are secretive, thus they are regarded uncommon.

Little hawks, birds, animals, reptiles, and even insects and carrion make up the varied diet of the northern goshawk. Because of their covert nature, they are considered uncommon, and their population is difficult to determine.


Scientific nameCircus hudsonius

Length: 18.1-19.7 in

Weight: 10.6-26.5 oz

Wingspan: 40.2-46.5 in

The face of the northern harrier is almost owl-like. This disc-shaped face, which resembles an owl in appearance and helps sound-based hunters hunt by sound as well as sight, performs similarly. The long tail and white patch above the tail are two helpful identifying features. They hold their wings in the shape of a “V” and have a distinct flying style. These birds are described as majestic by many people.

During the breeding season, you can find this hawk in New Hampshire, although it may be seen year-round. Although they are less often spotted than other species on this list, you may see them over marshes, fields, and other wide-open areas.

This hawk creates a platform in thick vegetation, such as reeds, willows, sedges, and cattails, unlike other hawks that nests in trees. Males may have two (sometimes more) partners at the same time, with whom they will share food and produce offspring.


Scientific nameButeo jamaicensis

Length: 17.7 – 25.6 in

Weight 24.3oz – 51.5 oz

Wingspan 44.9-52.4 in

The most widespread hawk on the North American continent is the red-tailed hawk, which lives in practically every state throughout the year. In the northern United States, these hawks breed. and much of northern and central New Hampshire, as well as other places in Canada. During the winter, several of these breeding adults may migrate south, although a population remains in New York year-round.

Red-tailed hawks are most active in the day or early morning, and they may be seen flying around looking for prey with their remarkable sight or perched on telephone poles along the road. Mice, rats, rabbits, and squirrels are the main types of animals they eat. Birds and snakes are also possible meals for them.

Adults have a brick-red tail, however their juvenile tail is brown and white striped. It’s simple to distinguish as an adult. The underside of these hawks is light, while the top is dark brown. Their breast has brown streaks, and their belly has a band of darker brown streaks that may be another distinguishing feature. There are several color variants across the country because these hawks are so common.

The red-tailed hawk’s long scream has become a symbol for all raptors because it gives out a shrill screech. Their scream is usually utilized as the sound for any hawk or eagle seen on screen in films and television.


Scientific nameButeo lineatus

Length: 16.9-24.0 in

Weight: 17.1-27.3 oz

Wingspan: 37.0-43.7

In their range, which includes the eastern United States, red-shouldered hawks are common. and the California coast west of there. They breed throughout the spring and summer in New Hampshire, then migrate south during the winter months. Some of them are year-round in the state’s southern region.

The thick red coloration on the breast, which extends all the way down their belly with crimson barring, is a helpful identifying characteristic. Their backs and wings are covered with dark, nearly black feathers. This will be blended with reddish feathers (thus their name) at the summit of their backs and shoulders. There will be a lot of white barring mixed in with the black feathers, culminating in a heavily banded tail, from the mid-back down.

Before you locate this hawk, listen for it. They emit a powerful “kee-aah” scream that is often repeated multiple times. Some people think it sounds like a seagull. When startled, they will yell to communicate their presence.

These birds prefer flooded areas and swamps, where they dwell and hunt in the woodland. These may be located alongside buildings in suburban environments where woods are intermingled. They may be confused with red-tailed hawks, but once you know how to identify them, they’re not difficult to differentiate.


Scientific nameButeo lagopus

Length: 18.5-20.5 in

Weight: 25.2-49.4 oz

Wingspan: 52.0-54.3 in

During the fall and winter months, New Hampshire is home to rough-legged hawks. They go all the way to the northern Arctic when it comes time to move to their breeding grounds! They’ll build nests on cliffs and rocky outcrops there.

They perch on poles and fence posts in wide-open areas across the country during the winter, and can be seen. Among the creatures they hunt are mice, voles, and shrews. In order to examine the ground beneath them, rough-legged hawks have been seen to hover in place, flapping their wings and turning into the wind.

The feathers on the legs of rough-legged hawks give them their name. Feathers that extend all the way down the leg of few American raptors are rare. Most have a thick black belly patch and are heavily mottled dark brown and white. As the wrist against a light backdrop, you may observe a black patch in the air. A dark-morph emerges from underneath that looks like it’s painted on two tones.


Scientific nameAccipiter striatus

Length: 9.4-13.4 in

Weight: 3.1-7.7 oz

Wingspan: 16.9-22.1 in

The smallest hawk in the United States, sharp-shinned hawks, lives year-round in New Hampshire and is the only one. Little birds and rodents are pursued through the forest by these hawks.

They stick to woods with thick canopy while nesting, making them difficult to detect. Their breeding range stretches from northern New Hampshire to Canada, and they breed throughout the year. They occasionally hunt birds at feeders in people’s backyards. During fall migration, however, is when you’ll see them best. They head south into the United States. They are frequently seen at hawk watch locations from their summer range in Canada.

Sharp-shinned hawks have black bands on their tails and cream-colored breasts with crimson-orange stripes on the back. With a more rounded head and squared-off tail, they resemble cooper’s hawks greatly.

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