About The

Harris Hawk

Harris Hawk
Parabuteo unicinctus
18 – 23 in
1.1 to 1.9 pounds
 3.4 – 3.9 feet




Harris Hawks are native to the most southern states of the U.S and Mexico. They prefer high perches such as trees, boulders, and hydro poles, which they use as lookouts, feeding platforms, and nesting areas.
Access to water is important in these warmer climates therefore the Harris Hawk generally chooses an area that includes water.


The Harris Hawk’s nests can be found in almost any tall, sturdy structure, including native saguaro cactus, mesquite trees, cliffs. Nests can also be found on artificial structures such as electrical transmission towers, weather antenna, windmill platforms, and artificial nesting platforms.
A Harris Hawk’s nest is a bulky structure made up of sticks and parts of cactus. It is usually lined with the same, as well as grass, feathers, and down. A breeding pair will construct the nest together, with the bulk of the work done by the female. Occasionally the Harris Hawk will construct more then one nest or repair their own in a the same year, and the older, unused sites are often turned into feeding platforms.


A Harris Hawk feeds mostly on medium-sized mammals such as hares, rabbits, squirrels, and other rodents. They have also been known to hunt quail, medium-sized birds, and reptiles.
Individuals in a group of Harris Hawks often take turns eating downed prey. They may even store prey in trees to eat later.
When born the Harris Hawk hatchling is helpless and covered in a light brown colored down feather.

Cool Facts

  • Harris’s Hawks co-cooperatively hunt in groups and are more successful at capturing prey than individual hunters alone.
  • Although most Harris’s Hawks nest in spring, some females will lay a second and even sometimes a third clutch regardless of whether their first breeding attempt fails or succeeds.
  • Older nestlings sometimes appear to play by chasing insects or jumping on sticks imitating prey capture.