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Hawks In Connecticut: 8 Majestic Bird Species In New England

Connecticut Hawk

Last Updated: May 24, 2022

I've always been an outdoor lover and observing wild birds and little animals is one of the things that I constantly look forward to. Raptors and hawks excite my curiosity and admiration when they soar across the sky, swoop down for prey, or hang gracefully on the highest branches.

If you look in the correct places, you'll find a plethora of hawk species in Connecticut. To pique your interest, I'll go through the several types of hawks in Connecticut and how to recognize them.

8 Types Of Hawks In CT

There are various hawk species in Connecticut, so knowing where to look for them and how to recognize them is crucial, especially if you're a bird watcher.

So, without further ado, let’s get the ball rolling!

1. Northern Harrier

Northern Harrier

They are regarded as medium-sized raptors with long, broad wings. Their face is owl-like, and their bill is tiny and sharply hooked. Their tail is long, and they have a strange white rump patch.

Color Scheme

Male Northern Harriers have black wingtips, a dark trailing edge to the wing, a black-banded tail, and are gray on the back and whitish below. Females and young ones have brown tails with black bands. The undersides of adult females are whitish with brown streaks. In contrast, the underparts of more youthful females are buffy with less streaking.

Behavioral Pattern

They fly low to the ground, weaving back and forth over fields and marshes, looking for small mammals to eat. They eat on the ground and perch on low posts or trees to watch the world go by. Males use flying barrel rolls to court females.

Habitat

Northern Harriers can be found breeding in wide-open habitats. Arctic tundra, prairie grasslands, fields, and marshes are examples of such habitats.

Size and Shape (Both Males and Females)

  • Length: 18.1-19.7 in. (46-50 cm)
  • Weight range: 10.6-26.5 oz (300-750 g)
  • Wingspan: 40.2-46.5 in. (102-118 cm)

2. Red-Shouldered Hawk

Red-Shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered hawks are medium-sized hawks with long tails and slim bodies. The wings of these birds are broad and rounded.

Color Scheme

Adult red-shouldered hawk is a brightly colored hawk with dark-and-white checkered wings and warm reddish breast barring. The tail is black with white bands running through it. Younger ones have a brown back and a white underbelly with brown streaks. In flight, all ages show thin, pale crescents near the wingtips.

Behavioral Pattern

The red-shouldered hawk soars less and prefers to perch in the shade. They have a reputation for being one of the noisiest raptors. During flight, this hawk makes a rapid series of whistles that are slurred together. Their cries can be heard all over the place.

Habitat

Because they are secretive raptors, the red-shouldered hawk prefers deciduous woodlands, often near rivers and swamps. Therefore, you're likely to find one when visiting such places.

Size and Shape

Males and females are approximately the exact sizes.

  • Length: 16.9-24.0 in. (43-61 cm)
  • Weight range: 17.1-27.3 oz (486-774 g)
  • Wingspan: 37.0-43.7 in. (94-111 cm)

3. Broad Winged Hawk

Broad Winged Hawk

Broad-winged hawks are stocky and small birds with broad wings and pointed tips. They have a large head, a chunky body, and a short tail.

Color Scheme

Adult broad-winged hawk has a reddish-brown head, barred underparts, and a tail with broad black and white bands. The pale undersides of the wings have a dark brown border. Younger birds have lighter brown underparts with coarse streaking, especially on the sides of the breast, and a narrowly banded tail.

Behavioral Pattern

Broad-winged hawks hunt for small mammals from perches beneath the forest canopy. They can also fly above the canopy or through gaps in the road. Their call is a single-pitch piercing whistle.

Habitat

Broad-winged hawk lives in forests, primarily under the canopy. It also soars in large flocks along coastlines and mountain ridges.

Size and Shape (Both Males and Females)

  • Length: 13.4-17.3 in. (34-44 cm)
  • Weight range: 9.3-19.8 oz (265-560 g)
  • Wingspan: 31.9-39.4 in. (81-100 cm)

4. Cooper's Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

Cooper's hawks are medium-sized hawks with a distinctive accipiter shape. Their heads are larger, their shoulders are broad, and their tails are rounded.

Color Scheme

The back of an adult Cooper's hawk is blue-gray, with warm reddish bars on the underside. Their tails have thick dark bands that run the length of them.

Adults have orange to red eyes, whereas juveniles have yellow eyes. The young Coopers have a brown back and upper breast with brown streaks.

Behavioral Pattern

The Cooper’s hawk usually perches and keeps an eye on its prey when hunting. It waits until the victim's attention is diverted before swooping down for the kill.

Males also raise their wings high above their backs and fly in a wide arc with slow, rhythmic flapping when they fly.

Habitat

Cooper's hawk is most commonly found in wooded habitats, deep forests, and backyards.

Size and Shape

Males and females are of different sizes.

Male

  • Length: 14.6-15.3 in. (37-39 cm)
  • Weight range: 7.8-14.5 oz (220-410 g)
  • Wingspan: 24.4-35.4 in.  (62-90 cm)

Female

  • Length: 16.5-17.7 in. (42-45 cm)
  • Weight range: 11.6-24.0 oz (330-680 g)
  • Wingspan: 29.5-35.4 in. (75-90 cm)

5. Red-Tailed hawk

Red-Tailed hawk

The red-tailed hawk is one of Connecticut's largest hawks and a symbolic bird of prey. You've probably heard their shrill cry sound "kee-eeee-ar" in the wild or in the movies.

Female red-tailed hawk grow to be so large that they could be mistaken for an eagle from afar. In addition, they have a distinct short and red tail.

Color Scheme

A rich rusty brown plumage with a pale underside is seen on most red-tailed hawks. Their bellies are also streaked. Between the shoulder and the wrist, the bottom of the wing is colored with a dark bar. The tail is usually pale below and cinnamon-red above, but young birds' tails are brown and banded.

Behavioral Pattern

A red-tailed hawk soars high above a field in wide circles, with occasional heavy wingbeats. They let out a hoarse, rasping scream that lasts two to three seconds during the flight. When defending their nest against other birds, they are also quite vocal.

Habitat

Open fields, grasslands, and marsh-shrub habitats are all excellent places you could look for the red-tailed hawk. You can also find these raptors in urban areas, such as parks and gardens.

Size and Shape

Males and females are of different sizes.

Male

  • Length: 17.7-22.1 in. (45-56 cm)
  • Weight range: 24.3-45.9 oz (690-1300 g)
  • Wingspan: 44.9-52.4 in. (114-133 cm)

Female

  • Length: 19.7-25.6 in. (50-65 cm)
  • Weight range: 31.8-51.5 oz (900-1460 g)
  • Wingspan: 44.9-52.4 in. (114-133 cm)

6. Sharp-Shinned Hawk

Sharp-Shinned Hawk

Sharp-shinned hawks are small birds with small heads and long tails. They also have square-tipped tails and short rounded wings.

Color Scheme

The backs of adult sharp-shinned hawks are slate blue-gray, with narrow, horizontal red-orange bars on the breast. Younger birds are primarily brown, with white underparts having coarse vertical streaks. Both adults and juveniles have broad dark bands running the length of their long tails.

Behavioral Pattern

They're quick fliers who dart through dense woods to catch their prey, usually songbirds, off guard. They may also pounce from low perches on their game. They have a distinct flap-and-glide flight style when flying across open areas.

Habitat

During the breeding season, the sharp-shinned hawks can be found in places like deep forests. During the non-breeding seasons, you can find them along forest edges and occasionally at backyard bird feeders.

Size and Shape

Sharp-shinned hawk females are larger than males.

Both Males and Females

  • Length: 9.4-13.4 in. (24-34 cm)
  • Weight range: 3.1-7.7 oz (87-218 g)
  • Wingspan: 16.9-22.1 in. (43-56 cm)

7. Northern Goshawk

Northern Goshawk

Goshawks are large raptors with distinctive slate gray and white plumage. Their tail is long and their wings are round and broad. They are the second-largest hawks of CT.

Color Scheme

The backs of adult Northern goshawks are dark slate gray, with pale gray barred underparts. They have orange or red eyes and a dark head with a white stripe that resembles long eyebrows.

The tails of the younger ones are brown and streaky, with narrow dark bands. They have yellow eyes and a faint pale brown stripe.

Behavioral Pattern

They are predators that observe prey from high vantage points before striking with quick, agile flight. Their short glides are interspersed with a few relatively slow wingbeats when flying.

Habitat

The thickets are home to Northern Goshawk. They prefer coniferous forests, but they can also be found in deciduous hardwood forests.

Size and Shape

The Northern Goshawk is the largest and bulkiest of the accipiter hawks.

Both Males and Females

  • Length: 20.9-25.2 in. (53-64 cm)
  • Weight range: 22.3-48.1 oz (631-1364 g)
  • Wingspan: 40.5-46.1 in. (103-117 cm)

8. Rough-legged Hawk

Rough-legged Hawk 

The largest types of hawks in CT are rough-legged hawks. The wings of these hawks are relatively narrow, and the tail is longer than that of most buteo hawks. Their wingtips are broad and often resemble an M shape in flight.

Color Scheme

They are dark-brown hawks with dark tail tips and pale bases with bold patterns. They come in light and dark morphs, like many other hawks. The underwings of light morphs are pale, with dark patches at the end of the wing. Dark morphs are primarily dark brown, but their underwings usually have pale trailing edges.

They also have feathers running down their legs that keep them warm in cold seasons. Thus, earning the name 'rough-legged.'

Behavioral Pattern

When hunting, rough-legged hawks frequently face the wind and hover, scanning the ground below for small mammal prey. They also communicate by making cat-like meow calls. They've also been seen flying in a slight V-shape with their wings raised.

Habitat

These raptors are adaptable and tenacious. You can spot rough-legged hawks in prairies, shrub steppes, semi-deserts, grasslands, marshes, bogs, and dunes during the winter.

Size and Shape (Both Males and Females)

  • Length: 18.5-20.5 in. (47-52 cm)
  • Weight range: 25.2-49.4 oz (715-1400 g)
  • Wingspan: 52.0-54.3 in. (132-138 cm)

Hawk Facts That Will Astound You

You've been studying how to identify various species of hawks but how well do you know them? I'm guessing not very much, so let me share some fascinating facts about these raptors.

Do you know that there are more than 200 species of hawks globally, with 25 of them primarily found in the United States?

Hawks are members of the Accipitridae family and are well-known for their predatory behavior. Their sharp talons, large bills, muscular legs, and quick flight allow them to easily capture prey, particularly small mammals such as mice, rats, rabbits, and squirrels. They also eat snakes and crustaceans, which is surprising.

Hawks have excellent vision and can see all colors, including those in the ultraviolet range. Their hearing is fantastic, but they have a poor sense of smell. 

They're known as “kettle of hawks” when they're in a group, but they're mostly solitary birds. They hunt during the day and are diurnal birds of prey.

Hawks are known for their courtship dance, which they perform during mating season. A female hawk, typically larger than the males, lays 1-5 eggs per year. Except in Antarctica, these agile raptors can be found worldwide. Ferruginous hawks are the largest hawks on the planet.

Finally, did you know that buzzards are another name for hawks and these raptors can live up to 30 years in the wild? That's certainly intriguing!

Fun Fact: Another intriguing piece of information is that most of the hawks mentioned in this article are also included in the list of hawks in California!

Watch This!


Frequently Asked Questions

What Are The Biggest Types Of Hawks In CT?

The Rough Legged hawks are the biggest hawks native to Connecticut, weighing up to 1400 grams with an average of 54-inch wingspan. That's more than twice the size of the Sharp-Shinned hawk - the smallest hawk species in Connecticut.

What Is The Most Common Hawk In CT?

Red-tailed hawks are the most common and one of the largest Connecticut hawks. Considered one of North America's commonest hawks, these raptors can be found in many habitats, from grasslands, prairies, and forests to urban areas. During winter, they are mainly seen near highways.

Are There Hawks Found In Connecticut?

There are eight species of hawks native to Connecticut. They include the Red-tailed hawks, Red-shouldered hawks, Cooper's hawks, Northern Harrier, Northern Goshawk, Sharp-shinned Hawks, Rough-Legged hawks, and Broad-winged hawks. 

However, it is essential to know that some species are seasonal, whereas others are found yearly.

Are There Black-Hawks In CT?

Suppose you live in CT and desire to spot a black hawk. Unfortunately, you can't find one, as black hawks are not native to Connecticut. This particular bird breeds in the warmer parts of the Americas, from the Southwestern United States through Central America to Venezuela, Peru, and Trinidad. Therefore, you can visit such places to sight a black hawk.


Conclusion

That's all there is to it, fellas! If you live in Connecticut and have seen a hawk before, you should be able to tell what species it is. Also, I suppose it's time for you to start looking out for other birds. This article should assist you in identifying new species in your area and existing ones that have been ignored.

Which hawks of CT have you seen and where?

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