There are up to 25 distinct species of hawks in North America, depending on who you ask. Each Canadian province may have its own collection of hawks that live there at various times of the year due to the varied climates and food sources for the different species. We’ll discuss some of the birds of prey that live in Ontario, starting with hawks and ending with eagles. We’ll discuss where you might find them, as well as some pictures and interesting facts about each species.
THE 8 HAWKS FOUND IN ONTARIO
In Ontario, you may encounter eight distinct species. Red-tailed Hawks, Red-shouldered Hawks, Sharp-shinned Hawks, Cooper’s Hawks, Broad-winged Hawks, Northern Goshawks, Rough-leggedhawks, and Northern Harriers are among the species.
Here is a list of hawks in Ontario, along with photos that may help you identify them if you sight one!
1. RED-TAILED HAWK
Length: 17.7-25.6 in
Weight: 24.3-51.5 oz
Wingspan: 44.9-52.4 in
The most prevalent hawks in North America, with almost 2 million birds nesting, are Red-tailed Hawks. This is roughly 90% of the world’s Red-tailed Hawk population. All year long, these big hawks may be found in Southern Ontario and much of North America. Red-tailed Hawks breed in great numbers across Ontario, and those birds migrate south in the winter to restock.
Red-tailed Hawks are often seen soaring above looking for prey with their exceptional vision or perched along the roadside on telephone poles. They are most active during the day or early morning. Because they prey on bigger animals that only singbirds, they don’t often emerge in backyards waiting around feeders. Here’s a link to learn more about the Red-tailed Hawk.
A Red-tailed Hawk had a squirrel trapped under a sign post in this short video we got of him. Mr. is a very intelligent man. Hawk is a word that means different things to different people.
2. RED-SHOULDERED HAWK
Length: 16.9-24.0 in
Weight: 17.1-27.3 oz
Wingspan: 37.0-43.7 in
Just Southern Ontario is home to the Red-shouldered Hawk, however it may be seen across the eastern half of the United States all year. Between Toronto and Detroit, between Lake Huron and Lake Eerie, look for them in the spring and summer months. Small mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians are the primary foods for this group.
Throughout the last 50 years, the number of Red-shouldered hawks in their range has risen. In wooded and forested areas, Red-shouldered Hawks are well-known for surviving and breeding. The clearance of forested regions where they breed and nest is the species’ greatest danger. The same nest is commonly used year after year by Red-shouldered Hawks. The Red-shouldered hawk is discussed in further depth below.
3. SHARP-SHINNED HAWK
Length: 9.4-13.4 in
Weight: 3.1-7.7 oz
Wingspan: 16.9-22.1 in
In Ontario and North America, the Sharp-shinned Hawk is the tiniest hawk. They may be found all throughout North America, with the exception of much of Ontario. They can be found all year round in southern Ontario. Every year, Sharpies breed north in Canada and Alaska, and then return to Central America in the winter.
They’re migratory birds, as you can see, but each year, as they fly through your region, you have a few great opportunities to spot them. Stalking backyard feeders is a specialty of these little hawks. If you spot one, consider lowering your feeders for a week or two so the hawk may go on its way. Here’s more information on the Sharp-shinned hawk.
4. COOPER’S HAWK
Length: 14.6-17.7 in
Weight: 7.8-24.0 oz
Wingspan: 24.4-35.4 in
The Sharp-shinned Hawk (see video below to distinguish between Cooper’s Hawks and Sharp-shinned Hawks) may sometimes appear to be just a bigger version of the Cooper’s Hawk. Southern Ontario is home to them during breeding season. Throughout much of Southern Canada and the United States throughout the spring and summer, Cooper’s Hawks are rather frequent.
They are famous for following feeders and feeding almost entirely on other birds. Forests and wooded areas are their preferred habitats, although they may also nest in suburban wooded areas and gardens. In this species, females are bigger and more dominant than males.
5. BROAD-WINGED HAWK
Length: 13.4-17.3 in
Weight: 9.3-19.8 oz
Wingspan: 31.9-39.4 in
In Southern Ontario, the Broad-winged Hawk is exclusively found during breeding season. Every year, in both the spring and fall, look for them along the shores of The Great Lakes and forests. Each year, thousands of broad-winged hawks travel in enormous flocks known as “kettles.” When Broad-winged Hawks are in Ontario, simply walking through a forest and listening for their piercing whistle is another way to detect them.
Each year, Broad-winged Hawks lay one or five eggs in a single clutch. With the aid of the male, the female is in charge of building the nest. They will construct their nests a half-mile away from other birds of prey, fiercely defending their nesting place and building them with at least a half-mile distance. Most other birds of prey have a similar diet.
6. NORTHERN GOSHAWK
Length: 20.9-25.2 in
Weight: 22.3-48.1 oz
Wingspan: 40.5-46.1 in
Northern Goshawks, which are comparable in size to Red-tailed Hawks, are big birds of prey. The majority of Ontario’s province is home to the Northern Goshawk, which can be found year-round. Your best chance is to quietly walk and listen in mature woods with large trees. They reside in huge woodlands and may be difficult to locate. They’re also recognized for attacking persons who get too close to their nests and young.
Adults have a pale stripe over their eyes and are dark slate gray on top with barred light gray underparts. The Northern Goshawks prefer to dwell in the upper levels of the forest. They eat a wide variety of foods, including other birds, animals, carrion, and insects. They are mostly opportunistic eaters.
7. ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK
Length: 18.5-20.5 in
Weight: 25.2-49.4 oz
Wingspan: 52.0-54.3 in
The only American hawks with feathered legs all the way down to their toes are Rough-legged Hawks and Ferruginous Hawks. Light morph and dark morph Rough-legged Hawks are two separate species. Both morphs of males and females have distinct plumage. Light morphs are lighter in color and have a two-toned light/dark pattern beneath their wings and tails, whereas dark morphs are a dark chocolate brown color with a mottled pattern.
Migratory birds, Rough-legged Hawks They migrate throughout the rest of the province and have a non-breeding range during the winter. They spend their winters in Southern Ontario. In most of Canada or the United States, making the winter or migration periods the best time to see a Rough-legged Hawk. Each season, they go to breed in the far north of Alaska and northern Canada.
8. 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 signature gliding style, the Northern Harrier is easy to spot. These birds are majestic in every sense of the word.
During the breeding season, you may see the Harrier in most of Ontario, but year-round in far southern Ontario. In marshes, fields, and other large-open regions, you might see them.
Little animals are eaten by the Northern Harrier. Harriers rely heavily on their sense of hearing to capture prey, unlike other species of hawks.