Georgia Hawks: Fascinating Characteristics To Keep In Mind When Identifying Their Species

hawk on a branch in forest

Last Updated: July 17, 2021

Amazingly, you can witness about 25 species of hawks in Georgia and its surroundings.

And almost half of them are there year-round. 

At the same time…

Others like the Broad-winged Hawk or the Swallow-tailed Kite migrate from South and Central America for breeding in Georgia.

For species like the Northern Goshawk and the Snowy Owl, you need to visit other parts of the USA or wait for suitable weather conditions in Georgia.

Today, we are going to talk about the most common species of hawks in GA.

Top Five Georgia Birds Of Prey

There is a wide range of species in GA, and you can quickly feel their presence with unique Georgia hawk sounds. These birds of prey are protected under federal law, so you should never think about hunting them.

All you can do is enjoy the sight of these amazing birds in open fields on a long trip in the region:

1. Red-Tailed Hawk

red-tailed hawk perches on a dead tree in a National Park

You can easily spot a red-tailed hawk in Georgia around the year.

They alone make about 12% of the sightings of hawks in the region. Besides, with their unique size and appearance, they are easier to spot. 

You can usually see them on your long car trips as the Red-tailed Hawks in Georgia will be flying over an open field in search of their hunt.

In cities, you can see them perches on higher poles.

Size Specifications

Male Red-Tailed Hawks differ in size from the females. The average length of a male Red-Tailed Hawks falls between 17.7 and 22.1 inches or 45-56 cm. They weigh between 24.3 and 45.9 oz. (or 690-1300 g) and have a wingspan of about 44.9-52.4 inches or 114-133 cm.

The female is about 19.7-25.6 inches or 50-65 cm long with a weight between 31.8 and 51.5 oz. or 900-1460 grams. In females, the wingspan is somewhere between 44.9 to 52.4 inches or 114-133 cm.

Appearance

Red-Tailed Hawks have prominent broad, shorter red tails. They have broad, round wings the fall between the size of a goose and crow. Most of the Red-Tailed Hawks are brown on the back with a pale underneath.

General Features

These birds have a high-pitched raspy screech sound that is also used in movies.

The Red-Tailed Hawks generally like to eat small birds, reptiles, and mammals. They also like to nest on comparatively taller trees or cliff ledges. You can also find them on taller buildings or towers. On average, they lay two to three light brown blotched eggs at a time.


2. Red-Shouldered Hawk

white and brown red hawk on a branch looking down

The Red-Shouldered Hawk in Georgia is another all-year prey bird. One can usually see them around wet forests hunting alone a pond or stream. They are pretty common and are seen in about 15% of the checklists in GA.

Size Specifications

A Red-Shouldered Hawk is about 16.9-24.0 inches or 43-61 cm long with an average body weight between 17.1 and 27.3 oz. or 486 to 774 grams. Their wingspan is about 37 to 43.7 inches or 94-111 cm in total.

Appearance

The Red-Shouldered Hawk is prominent due to its dark and white wings. They also have reddish barring on the breast. On average, they are medium in size, resting between a crow and swan but with a strongly banded tail.

General Features

The Red-Shouldered Hawk generally preys on frogs, snakes, or smaller size mammals. They make louder cack-cack calls. They nest in broad-leaved trees near water and use the same nest over and over. 

On average, they lay two to five bluish or white eggs.

3. Broad-Winged Hawk

brown and light brown hawk

The Broad-Winged Hawks breed in Georgia.

They are common in the north of the state before migrating in bulk from the southern regions. They are often sighted in Georgia with a recorded estimate of about 1% on the list. Their immigration in the fall season is the best time to see a Broad-winged Hawk in Georgia

Size Specifications

The Broad-winged Hawks are about 13.4 to 17.3 inches or 34 to 44 cm long with a bodyweight of between 9.3 to 19.8 oz. and 265 to 560 grams. Their wingspan is about 31.9 to 39.4 inches or 81 to 100 cm in total.

Appearance

A Broad-Winged Hawk is a stocky, compact bird that rests between the size of a crow and goose.

They have distinctive reddish-brown heads, narrowly banded short tails, and bared breasts.

General Features

The Broad-winged Hawk general hunt on the edge of woods or near freshwater resources. They love to eat frogs, small mammals, snakes, and often young turtles. The Broad-winged Hawk also reuses the nest of other animals and birds like crows or squirrels.

On average, they lay two to three white eggs at a time.


4. Sharp-Shinned Hawk

brown hawk with white chest

This is a migratory bird that is typically seen in the winters. They are not much common and make about 1% of the net sighting around Georgia. This species is the smallest in Georgia and is smaller than a crow but slightly bigger than Jays.

The female Sharp-shinned Hawks are about a third bigger than their male counterparts.

Size Specifications

These hawks have long tails with short rounded wings and tiny heads.

The Sharp-Shinned Hawks are about 9.4 to 13.4 inches in length with a weight between 3.1 and 7.7 oz. Their wingspan falls between 16.9 and 22.1 inches.

Appearance

A grown-up Sharp-Shinned Hawk has a blue-grey back with a red-orange breast.

They also feature dark bands on their tail.

General Features

These hawks are incredibly secretive. You can see them flying high in open areas or at the edge of the forests. They fly swiftly and can speed through the woods to catch prey during flight. They usually feed on songbirds.

Occasionally, you can also see them near the feeder while feeding on smaller birds. However, if you have a problem with these hawks, remove the feeder for a while. 

These hawks can pluck their prey on stumps or lower branches before eating.

5. Cooper’s Hawk

brown and white hawk on a wooden fence

You can usually find Cooper's hawk in Georgia during the winters. But they are pretty common woodland hawks as compared to previously mentioned. Hence, they make about 4% on the sighted checklist.

Generally, you can find them on the edges of thick forests or feeders looking for easy prey.

As these hawks are much similar to the Sharp-Shinned Hawks, it isn't easy to differentiate between the two. However, these are slightly bigger than the aforementioned.

Appearance

A male Cooper Hawk measures differently than the female. Here a male is about 14.6 to 15.3 inches long with bodyweight between 7.8 and 14.5 oz. Their wingspan is about 24.4 to 35.4 inches.

The female Cooper Hawk is about 16.5 to 17.7 inches long with a bodyweight of about 11.6 to 24.0 oz. and a wingspan between 29.5 and 35.4 inches.

General Features

The Cooper’s hawks generally feed on medium-sized birds, including songbirds. They also like to feed on small-sized mammals. They nest in taller trees or on top of old nests of larger birds. On average, they lay 2 to 6 bluish-white or pale blue eggs.


FAQ Section

Here are some of the most common questions asked about these amazing birds of prey:

What Do Hawks Eat In Georgia?

The preferred food for Georgia hawks may vary from one type to another. However, in general, they like to feed on rodents and other small mammals in this category. Occasionally, they like to take other reptiles and birds alongside other food items they can find around.

In some cases, the diet of Georgia hawks may consist of small reptiles, other birds, their eggs, or amphibians.

Are Hawks Protected In Georgia?

Yes, along with a wide range of birds and animals, the hawks in Georgia are also protected under Federal Law in Georgia. According to the law, it is not allowed to trap, take, possess, or transport hawks for personal benefits.

Likewise, you cannot kill these endangered Georgia hawk species. However, you need to follow legally acclaimed methods for your protection or look for a license to take measurements for your safety if you live in Georgia.

Likewise, it is not legal for any non-resident to take, trap and kill these birds.

What Hawks Live In Georgia?

In total, six species of hawks live in Georgia, these include:

  • Sharp-shinned Hawk
  • Cooper’s Hawk
  • Broad-winged Hawk
  • Red-tailed Hawk
  • Northern Harrier
  • Red-shouldered Hawk

Among these, the Red-Tailed Hawks are giant hawks you can see in Georgia. At the same time, the Sharp-shinned Hawks are the smaller ones on the list. Although you can abundantly spot all of them, the Red-Tailed Hawks are the most common sight in the region.

What Is The Largest Hawk In Georgia?

By far, the Red-tailed Hawks are the largest living species of hawks living in Georgia. You can easily see them all year round as compared to other types of hawks in Georgia. This way, they make about 12% of the total sight of hawks of Georgia.

Hence this species is easier to spot on a long car journey. These hawks circle over open fields. They do so in search of prey. You can easily spot them among the pictures of hawks in Georgia on telephone poles.

A male red-tailed hawk is about 17.7-22.1 inches or 45-56 cm in length while weighing about 24.3-45.9 oz. or 690-1300 g. For Georgia's male red-tailed hawks, the wingspan is usually about 44.9-52.4 inches or 114-133 cm.

Likewise, when we look for female red-tailed Georgia hawk identification, the average specifications are 19.7-25.6 in length; 31.8-51.5 oz. The weight and a wingspan of 44.9-52.4 inches. With the stated size and weight specifications, the Red-Tailed Hawk is the biggest hawk native to Georgia.

Before wrapping things up, here’s an amazing video featuring the Red-Shouldered Hawk:

Final Thoughts

Georgia is a nice place to witness a range of hawks. Most hawks native to Georgia can be seen all year round, including the Red-Shouldered Hawks and the Red-Tailed Hawks.

However, you can also see other species at different times of the year, including winters. While living in Georgia, you can enjoy the sight of these rare species but never think of hunting them down for any reason.

Hawks that live in Georgia are protected under Federal Law and causing any damage to these birds might get you into some serious trouble.

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