Parabuteo unicinctus


Harris's Hawks are very social birds. Young birds will often stay with its family for several years and help raise subsequent broods. They also often hunt cooperatively in pairs or groups for rabbits, quail, lizards, and snakes. Their group style of hunting has made them popular in the sport of falconry.

The Harris's Hawk was named by John James Audubon after his friend Edward Harris. This hawk has also been called a Bay-winged Hawk and Dusky Hawk.


General: 18 to 23 inches in length. Sexes similar.

Adult: Dark ( brownish ) head, neck, back, and belly. Short, dark, hooked beak with yellow base. Chestnut underwing coverts and leg feathers. Dark wing feathers. Long, black tail with white base and terminal band. Yellow legs.

Immature: Dark ( brownish ) head and neck with sparse pale streaking. White belly with dark-brown streaks. Pale leg feathers with chestnut barring. Chestnut upperwing and underwing coverts with dark centers. Pale bases to primaries create pale patch in outer wing. Long, dark tail with narrrow white base and terminal band.


Semiarid habitats; savannas, chaparrals, scrub prairies, and mesquite and saguaro deserts.


2-4 white to blueish white eggs; can have pale brown or gray speckling. The eggs have a 33-36 day incubation period. Fledging occurs in 42 days, with the young birds staying within the vicinity of the nest for another 3 or 4 months. The Harris's Hawk builds stick nests, often lined with leaves, moss, bark and plant roots, in trees, bushes, cacti, and on man-made structures. The nest is primarily built by the female.

Observed Locations:

  • Anza Borrego Desert State Park

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Copyright © Scott Streit, 2000.