8 Species Of Hawks In Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has a wide range of geographical areas. The Appalachian Mountains are in the middle, Lake Erie is to the north, and the Delaware River is to the east. Many species of birds, including Eagles, live in the state. Let’s take a closer look at the hawk, which is a popular bird of prey. Pennsylvania is home to eight different kinds ofhawks, and we’ll talk about them all in this article.


Eight hawk species may be found throughout the year in Pennsylvania, with some species occurring during a limited period. Northern Harriers, Red-tailed Hawks, Sharp-shinned Hawks, Cooper’s Hawks, Northern Goshawks, Red-shouldered Hawks, Broad-winged Hawks, and Rough-legged Hawks are among the birds found here. Keep reading to learn more about where they live, when you can find them, and what they’re like.


Length: 18.1-19.7 in

Weight: 10.6-26.5 oz

Wingspan: 40.2-46.5 in

The only Harrier species found in North America is Northern Harriers, which are a unique sort of hawk. Their faces are owl-like, with face discs that enhance their hearing ability while they hunt. They swoop back and forth in open places in search of prey, such as rats and other small to medium sized creatures, and are frequently noticed flying low to the ground.

Unlike many other hawks, they prefer to chase prey while on the go rather than perch while hunting. Marshes, fields, and prairies in Pennsylvania are home to them all year.

Long, broad wings and a long, rounded tail characterize Northern Harriers. They are easily recognized at a distance by their white patch on the rump near the base of their tail, as well as by the dihedral “V” shape they hold their wings in while flying. Males are mostly light grayish-brown on the top and white on the underside. The majority of females have a light brown color. Males of the Northern Harrier are known as “gray-ghosts” because of their gray coloring.


Length: 17.7-25.6 in

Weight: 24.3-51.5 oz

Wingspan: 44.9-52.4 in

One of the biggest and most common hawks in North America is the Red-tailed Hawk. They’re year-round hawks in Pennsylvania, and they’re very common across the country. Roadside hawks are a name for these birds because of their regular presence along highways and interstates. They’re often seen soaring above the trees in slow, elegant circles or perched atop tall light poles or poles.

Red-tailed Hawks are a fantastic choice for beginning birdwatchers because they are adaptable to a wide range of environments and don’t seem to be spooked by humans. In most places with woods and open clearings for hunting, look for them.

Red-tailed Hawks are large buteos with stocky bodies and rounded wings that have broadened edges. The undersides of most hawks are light brown, while their backs and upper bodies are dark brown. Coloration varies. There are light and dark variants of many hawks. The reddish upper sides of the hawks’ tails, with dark brown banding at the tip, earned them their name.


Length: 9.4-13.4 in

Weight: 31.-7.7 oz

Wingspan: 16.9-22.1 in

Sharp-shinned Hawks are the tiniest accipiter hawks in the United States, with a body that measures just over a meter. They are quick to maneuver through thick woods thanks to their thin bodies, short rounded wings, and long, square-tipped tails. These two birds have nearly identical coloring, making it difficult for even expert birders to tell them apart. The uppers of both hawks are blue-gray, and the undersides are light-orange. Both hawks have pale undersides with light-orange barring.

Sharp-shinned Hawks are difficult to find because of their small size, which is roughly the same as a Blue Jay, and their stealthy, secretive nature. They are mainly found in deep woodlands and forests, where they use their ability to catch prey by surprise.

As a result, when they move in large numbers, the best time to see them is usually at migration. If you witness this, take down your feeders for a few days to avoid being ambushed by Sharp-shinned Hawks at your backyard bird feeders.


Length: 14.6-17.7 in

Weight: 7.8-24.0 oz

Wingspan: 24.4-35.4 in

Cooper’s Hawks have bigger heads, longer tails, and longer frames than Sharp-shinned Hawks, although they are medium-sized accipiters that look very similar. Grayish upperparts and light undersides with rufous streaking, as well as red-orange eyes in adults, characterize both birds. Cooper’s Hawks’ tips, on the other hand, are rounded where Sharp-shinned Hawks’ are square, as can be seen in a close look at their tails.

Year-round, Cooper’s Hawks may be found in Pennsylvania’s deep woods and woodlands, which also provide clearing and open areas. These hawks, like other accipiters, eat a large proportion of their food from other birds. Cooper’s Hawks eat a variety of birds, such as Blue Jays, Starlings, and American Robins, as well as rats, lizards, and other tiny creatures. Cooper’s Hawks, like Sharp-shinned Hawks, are elusive and difficult to observe during migration periods. Therefore, observing them at hawk watches is typically the simplest way.


Length: 20.9-25.2 in

Weight: 22.3-48.1 oz

Wingspan: 40.5-46.1 in

Northern Goshawks can be found throughout Pennsylvania, though there are a few areas in the southern portion of the state where they can only be found during the winter. Northern Goshawks, like Sharp-shinned Hawks and Cooper’s Hawks, are also accipiters, with rounded wings and long tails. Northern Goshawks, on the other hand, are the biggest accipiters in North America, and they are considerably bigger than these other accipiters.

Northern Goshawks are quiet birds, much as the other accipiters we’ve discussed thus far. They dwell in huge, thick woods and prefer to stay unseen, therefore locating them is difficult. They are the most common accipiter on Earth. These hawks feature vivid red eyes and strong white stripes that give them the appearance of having eyebrows. The majority of them have gray plumage. They’re typically thought of as emblems of power, and Attila the Hun had one painted on his helm.


Length: 16.9-24.0 in

Weight: 17.1-27.3 oz

Wingspan: 37.0-43.7 in

In Pennsylvania’s eastern half, red-shouldered Hawks may be found all year, but only during breeding season in the western half. In damp woods and forests near bodies of water, such as bogs and rivers, they prefer to dwell.

Red-shouldered Hawks, like Red-tailed Hawks, are buteos, albeit they are smaller and have tails that are often longer. Their flight style is more akin to that of an accipiter, with quick wingbeats followed by a glide; their bodies are likewise thinner than those of most other buteo hawks.

The call of the Red-shouldered Hawk is unique, which helps with identification. Blue Jays will even mimic the sound of a loud “kee-ah.” The wings are patterned with dark brown, and the tail is bordered with bold, black, and white stripes. The feathers are also vivid and reddish-brown. While they’re in the air, search for their one-of-a-kind, translucent crescents near the ends of their underwings.


Length: 13.4-17.3 in

Weight: 9.3-19.8 oz

Wingspan: 31.9-39.4 in

Broad-winged Hawks are one of the most migratory buteos in North America. In fact, when they make their southern migration down to Central and South America in the fall, they are at their best. Thousands of Broad-winged Hawks known as kettles make up these huge flocks who migrate in large numbers. Hawk watching sites attract birders from all across the country to witness these wonderful shows. During the breeding season in Pennsylvania, these hawks may be difficult to locate since they prefer to stay inside forests’ depths.

Broad-winged Hawks are little hawks with short tails and broad wings, as the name implies. They fly with a broad wing. The main, thick white band on their dark brown tails serves as a excellent field marker. Their chests are light orange, and the undersides of their wings and bellies are usually pale. This hawk’s plumage is a dark brownish-black throughout, and if you’re lucky enough to come across one, you’ll find the extremely uncommon dark-morph variety.


Length: 18.5-20.5 in

Weight: 25.2-49.4 oz

Wingspan: 52.0-54.3 in

In Pennsylvania, Rough-legged Hawks are rather uncommon. They mostly live in the open Arctic tundra during the summer, when they breed as well. They do, however, migrate south in the autumn and spend the winter in the northern United States and southern Canada. They are most often found in Pennsylvania during the winter, although they are uncommon. Their populations change from year to year, and depending on the quantity of lemmings, their primary food source, they may fluctuate greatly.

The ornamental feathers on the legs of rough-legged hawks help them stay warm in the frigid north. These hawks are the only raptors in America with feathers along their legs and talons, as well as the Golden Eagles. With stocky bodies and long, broad wings, Rough-legged Hawks are large buteo hawks. Their feet and beaks are small, and their tails are longer than those of most buteos.

Their tails fan out while they’re in the air, and they keep their wings in a “V” formation. Plumage in North America comes in a variety of colors, including light and dark morphs. White underparts and gray-brown uppers characterize adult light-morph males, with dark brown uppers and underwings distinguishing dark-morphs.

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