Last Updated on October 20, 2021 by Guillermina
Want to learn about hawks native to Georgia? Our identification guide lists out some very special species for your perusal!
Birds of prey are a common sight in the skies of Georgia. Harriers, eagles, even vultures are among the many that consider the state their home. Another carnivorous resident is the hawk. In hawk identification Georgia, almost 7 types have been sighted in the state.
So, without further ado, let’s soar through these different types that you might be able to spot.
Seven Hawk Species Native To Georgia And Their Details
Among the common hawks native to Georgia is the red-shouldered hawk. It gets its name from the red tint on its shoulders. You’ll easily notice it when it’s perched.
This hawk is a medium-sized bird with a long tail. It has a monochrome checkered body, white bars across the tail, and reddish stripes on the warm brown belly. Its head is in shades of brown, while the legs are yellow.
When searching for prey, the red-shouldered utilizes its sharp sight and hearing by perching on a high point. Once sighted, it will circle the target, high in the sky, before dropping low and catching it by surprise. Small mammals (mice, chipmunks, tree squirrels), reptiles (small snakes), birds, and even fish are among its prey.
During winters, you’ll notice these hawks near bird feeders on the lookout for small birds. To prevent your feathery friends from becoming the next meal, you can take down the bird feeders for a few days. The hungry hawks will move on, allowing the small birds to return and feed with ease. Red-shouldered hawks are all over Georgia, with more common sightings in the southern parts. They prefer the forest life, typically near swampy spots.
Another permanent resident of Georgia, like the red-shouldered, is the red-tailed hawk. The only similarity is in their names. The latter not only sports a red tail but is the largest hawk in Georgia while being bulkier in weight.
This bird is among the most common hawks native to Georgia. It is a pure shade of brown on the upperparts, with a pale, whitish chest. You’ll observe dark bands across their feathers, especially mid-flight. Its tail is a cinnamon-red shade, with a light underside. Although, the eastern red-tailed have larger bills and talons than their western siblings.
When hunting for food, they perch on telephone poles or similar high points. Their diet consists of prey available based on the season. They feast on small birds and animals and rodents that make up 85% of their diet. Red-tails can become aggressively territorial. Similar to red-shouldered hawks, they tend to get into fights to protect their territory.
They are monogamous by nature as they only have one partner at a time. Being residents of an open country, you’ll generally find them near fields or perched on poles or trees.
Another of the hawks in Georgia is the gracile Cooper’s hawk. With a medium-sized body, it has a large head and a round tail.
The adult Cooper’s hawk has a blue-grey back and wings. The underside is a warm shade with a red barring. The striped tail has dark bands while the legs are in shades of yellow.
This hawk is an infamously ferocious raptor. With its speed and strength, it is a relentless predator. A Cooper’s hawk circles its meal before ambushing them. It feasts on small animals such as birds near bird feeders, doves, and rabbits. You can come across this hawk all year, anywhere in Georgia. They prefer nesting in dense woody forests but visit backyards and parks as well.
Sharp-shinned Hawks Of Georgia
Unlike the previous permanent residents, a few hawks migrate away from Georgia during the breeding season. Among these are the Sharp-shinned and Broad-winged hawks.
The sharp-shinned hawk is among the small types of hawks in Georgia. It has a small head and similarly-sized rounded wings. The tail, however, is long in size with a square tip. Female sharp-shinned are larger in size than their male counterparts.
This predator has a light brown underside with stripes of red-orange bars crossing the breast. The wings are a deeper shade of brown, while the upper side of the body is in shades of slate grey. Their square tails are covered in thick dark bars.
The sharp-shinned hawks are called ‘pursuit hunters.’ They consume smaller birds and mammals, and their speed helps them shoot through thick trees to catch their prey unawares. Unlike other raptors, sharp-shinned do not stoop from high points to capture their target. You might even come across one pouncing to grab its meal.
During the breeding season, you’ll find this migrating hawk in dense forests, and it prefers nesting in areas surrounded by thick vegetation.
Broad-winged Hawks Of Georgia
The other temporary visitor to Georgia is the broad-winged hawk. Unlike the sharp-shinned hawks, this type only visits Georgia during its breeding season.
This chunky raptor has a small body with a large head. The brown head has a reddish tint similar in shade to the bars on the pale underside. It has a short and square tail, covered in black and white stripes. The wings are broad with dark brown borders.
Like others of their type, the broad-winged hunt their prey from high perches.
However, their diet changes with the season. They’ll consume small mammals, amphibians, and reptiles during summers and nesting time. In winters, they hunt insects as well as mammals and snakes. Broad-winged hawks don’t drink water often as they hydrate themselves through the water inside their prey.
Their habitat mainly consists of forests. During migration, they travel in large flocks and are found throughout Georgia. Though they have a monogamous lifestyle, this hawk has a unique trait. It doesn’t socialize with its mate besides the breeding season.
Rough-legged and Short-tailed Hawks
Among the other hawks native to Georgia are two rare breeds: rough-legged and short-tailed hawks. They are the least common of the raptors in Geor, and only a handful of sightings have been reported. Rough-legged hawks only visit in winters, outside its breeding season. In comparison, the short-tailed hawks are mostly spotted mid-flight.
We bet you didn’t think gorgeous Georgia had so much to offer for hawk and raptor enthusiasts. If you’re on the lookout for these hawks, with a bit of luck, you might be able to spot all 7. You’ll simply need to find the right spot and the right season to enjoy the sight of these remarkable predators of Georgia.