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Hawks in Florida – Behavior and Interesting Facts

Mackenzie Gary



Whether birds are smaller or larger, noticing them will never end for bird lovers. Although, bird watching is listed amongst different hobbies. Nevertheless, it looks weird to see Hawks in Florida for people who are unfamiliar with nature. But awareness about species can make you fall in joy and happiness. 

Without identification, nobody can differentiate hawks and may remain unsatisfied. However, this article is totally based on hawks for your ease. Hawks types, their food, territory, and lifespan will attract you towards seeing these birds closely.  It matters to know about shades of various species.

Their darker and lighter shades with streaks grab the attention of visitors in Florida. To solve your confusion between eagle and hawks, this article covers lots of your questions with appropriate answers. You can identify the hawks with their food. So, let’s read to get extra knowledge about Florida hawks. 

Types of hawks in Florida

Ignorance with endangered species is not fair with climate. Similarly, hawks are listed in species to be noted to maintain the environmental balance. There are different types of hawk species in Florida. Some of them are long-tailed, and others are shorter in size. So, let’s read about the details of each species with size, behavior, color, and lifespan. 

Broad-winged hawks

Broad-winged hawks have thick bodies and short tails. They have a large head that helps to stabilize body weight during the fly.  All the pointed ends of wings help them to fly smoothly. 

Size: Even male and female hawks have the same sizes. While the length depends upon the age of this hawk. Immature ones have a roundabout of 34cm, and adult ones have 43cm in length.  Juveniles have 250g and adults 550g. Indeed, the wingspan of this adult hawk starts from 80cm. Yet, sometimes the wingspan of this hawk reaches 90-100cm. 

Food: They depend upon small bird species. Even they are wandering the nests on trees and waiting for their fresh food. Reptiles and amphibians are also liked by broad-winged hawks.

Habit: Consequently, they prefer to live in canopy areas. Primarily, they like to live away from human territories. Shortly, they want deciduous plants for breeding, and Hawks in Florida fly in flocks for migration. So, they lived in Florida grassland forests. 

Color: Moreover, the most appropriate way to identify these birds is a color pattern.  There is a big difference in shades between Juvenile and adult ones. Adult hawks are darker in color than juveniles. Furthermore, the dark brown head color of the broadly winged hawk is similar to its wings but different from the tail. You can see white and black shades in the tail. 

Juvenile hawks are lighter brown with a dark brown tail. The breast is white, but brown barring differentiates them from the adult one. 

Expected life: Hence, the lifespan of these hawks is more than 20 years.

Cooper’s hawks

Cooper hawks are smaller than red-winged hawks. Its body is extended with a long tail. Certainly, the wings and shoulders of these birds are broad, which helps to maintain the momentum of flying. These birds do not expand and broaden their tail during flying like broad-winged hawks.

Size: Although, the size of the male is a little bit different from female cooper hawks. Hence, the male is about 39cm, but the female is about 45cm. It means females are larger than males. Definitely, length impacts birds’ weight. However, the weight of the adult female is more than 600g, but males are around 400g.

Food: Hawks depend upon insects, mammals, and reptiles to fulfill their food requirements. Yet, cooper’s hawk also attacks smaller birds because they live in woody and leafy areas in Florida.

Color: While the color of this bird is very unique. Mature hawks have a grayish-bluish tone with reddish streaks. Besides, immature hawks are brownish from the upper side, and the bottom part is white with reddish-brown spots. Hooked bills make them complete predators. 

Habit: Birds cannot reach the highest altitude without flapping their wings. However, most hawks do not flap their wings like sparrows and cardinals. But the behavior of these Hawks in Florida is different because of flapping habits for fast flying. They remain to fly close to the ground for a sudden attack on prey.

Expected life: Undoubtedly, they may remain alive from 12-20 years.

  • Shortly, these birds can fast-flying with flapping behavior.

Red shouldered hawks

Red-shouldered hawks are mostly available in Florida. 

Size: However, if we are talking about their sizes, then they are neither large nor small. But these birds fall in the medium-size category. Accordingly, the wings and tail are also medium in size to maintain weight. 

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Although, the length of this bird is more than 50cm. Essentially, the weight of this bird is around 770g. Not just this, but the wingspan of this bird is about 110cm, which helps these birds for gliding.

Habit: These birds have a habit of migrating alone. Sometimes, they prefer a group of 2-3 hawks to fly. Most hawks have a specialty of flapping their wings frequently. However, these birds cannot flap their wings. Yet, soaring and gliding can maintain the posture in the air and help to move upward. 

Shade: Also, the upper side of this bird is dark brownish with white streaks. Regardless, the below side is reddish with white streaks.  Additionally, the same upper side colors are shown on tails with white crescent ends. 

Food: Fishes, insects, rodents, and mammals are also their favorite food. Although, they feel scared to come close to large water oceans to hunt amphibians. 

Mostly, these birds live in woodland and near the water bodies. 

Expected life: The life span of this bird is longer than sharp-shinned hawks and about 14-18 years.

Broad winged hawks

These are smaller hawks, but their bodies are dense. Clearly, the heads of these birds are a little bit bigger than their body. Even, the tails of these birds are not larger like other hawks. 

Size: Both male and female Hawks in Florida are the same in size and weight. Adult broad-winged hawks reach about 44cm. However, according to length, the weight will also increase. So, the weight of this hawk is more than 550g. It depends upon the nutrition and diet of birds. Apart from that, the more hawks will eat the better they will grow. Winges are broadened as hawk names. However, the wingspan reached almost 90-100cm. 

Shade: Also, the colors of all hawks are darker and lighter. Indeed, broad-winged hawks are dark brown and whitish. 

Food: Thus, they primarily live in deep forests under canopies. Basically, the purpose of living in a sheltered tree is just finding small birds for food. They’re mostly roaming around nests for baby birds and eggs. 

Expected life: The lifespan of this hawk is 12-14 years.

Sharp shinned hawks

Size: Sharp-shinned hawks are very beautiful with smaller sizes than broad-winged hawks. Still, the wings of these birds are also short according to the body but are rounded. Even the female of this bird is also larger like the above hawks. Furthermore, this smaller bird has a long and notched tail.

Male and female are about 33cm long. Yet, the weight of adults reached 215g. Moreover, the wingspan is 45-55cm in both sexes. 

Nature of sharp-shinned hawks: Sharp-shinned hawks are sharp, clever, and quick to hunt their prey. Sharp-shinned hawks’ way of trapping is different from others. They hide in vegetative areas and look for prey. When hawks feel easy, they instantly come close to sparrows, hummingbirds, and finches to capture them. It means they prefer to sit on lower branches to rapidly react.  

Shade: Color patterns of adults and juveniles are different. Immature is lighter brown and white. Indeed, mature ones are bluish-gray from the upper side and orange in color with white specks from below.

Food: These Hawks In Florida depend upon small birds according to their smaller size. Furthermore, they don’t want large reptiles and amphibians for food. 

However, they desire to live in woody areas, hidden places, and canopy trees.

Expected life: Moreover, the life span of these birds is commonly 2-3 years, but mostly they remain alive till 10 years.

Northern harrier

Northern harriers are unique due to their owl-like faces. So, are you also confused about owls and northern harriers? Keep in mind that northern harriers are hawks, but not owls. 

Size: They are medium in size about 56cm in length, and 750g in weight. Moreover, the wingspan is 48 inches in adults. A pointed sharp bill of harrier helps to catch and hold prey. The body of these birds is long due to their large tail. Wings are wider with space in tips during flying. 

Nature of northern harrier: Still, these birds mostly prefer to live on the ground rather than on trees. Moreover, they make their nest in the ground and hide them under heavy grasses.

Undoubtedly, they find their food roaming close to the ground. The specialty of these birds is to move forward and backward in the research of food. These birds have sharp vision and great hearing capability to quickly find the smaller birds. 

Their favorite place for living is ground, marshes, and lower perches. You can see these birds in the grasslands.

Shade: Like other hawks, the color of this bird is darker from above and lighter from below. However, females are lighter in color than males. Brown, gray, and black are the common colors in northern harriers.  

Expected life:  15-16 years

Short-tailed hawks

Short-tailed hawks are commonly present in southern Florida except for some species. These birds stay year-round in their preferred region. 

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Color: Some Hawks In Florida species have various colors that enhance their appearance. Basically, below is lighter, and above is darker in shades. 

Size: Undoubtedly, the length of this bird is around 44cm, and its weight is 520g. Not just this, but also wingspan is about 100cm

Habit of living: Although, these birds mostly prefer to live in wooded areas, canopy trees, and near water shores. They usually prefer stick nests for breeding seasons. However, their eggs may be safe in wider nests. They have a habit of searching for their food during flying. 

Food: The food of these hawks are rodents, amphibians, insects, and birds. Mostly they hunt immature monkeys, frogs, lizards, and bats due to their smaller size.

Expected life: The life span of this bird is about 15-20 years. 

Red-tailed hawks

Red-tailed hawks are common and widely spread in Florida because these species are not endangered. Mainly the color of this bird is very much unique with beautiful short red-tailed. Whenever these birds are flying, then you can see the upper side of this bird is very dark. However, the below side is lighter with some streaks of darker colors. As the tail is shorter, they expand it during flying. 

Some people are confused in Southwestern and eastern red-tailed hawks. Moreover, they are different in size, and eastern hawks are smaller than southwestern. 

Size: According to the size, the male is smaller than the female. So this is the same as the copper hawks. It depends on whether the birds are adult or immature. Hence, adult male hawks’ bodies are about 56cm, and females are about 65cm in length. Perhaps, the immature male body weight is around 650g, and the older male is about 1,300g. The female is about 1460g. Wingspan also matters for identification. Furthermore, male and female wingspans are above 130cm.

Shade: Many species of hawks are red-tailed. But there is a color difference between them. However, the color pattern of this bird is very unique. Dark, chocolate and reddish-brown are common in red-tailed hawks. Some Hawks in Florida below are pale, and some are brownish and reddish. However, warmer colors are identified for these birds in Florida. 

Food: Red-tailed hawks also eat insects, mammals, and rodents as primary food. Basically, they like rodents, fishes, lizards, and small birds. Most importantly, they cannot eat adult rabbits, cats, and chickens because of their heavyweight. These birds retain their vision on the ground for finding ground squirrels and small birds. With sudden flapping to move downward, they catch prey and enjoy eating. 

Life: Red-tailed hawks live about 10-14 years normally.

Swainson hawks

Swanson’s hawks are visited in Florida but during winters. However, it means they don’t live year-round in Florida like other hawks. These hawks are not larger but fall in medium size. 

Size: Its length is shorter due to its shorter tail. But wings are larger and wider. Both sexes are the same in length about 45-56cm, and the weight is more than 1360g

Shade: Yet, the color of this species is darker and lighter. Like other hawks, they are also darker from above and lighter from below. Wings are very beautiful with light-colored ends. Bill is black but yellow from the nostrils. Moreover, the feet are also yellowish.

Habit: Similarly, these predators usually prefer open spaces in summer, but in winters they migrate to the woodland area. Still, these hawks prefer trees to make their nest on trees.

Food: Along with that, the favorite food is insects, but they also eat reptiles and mammals.

Expected life: Therefore, the lifespan of these hawks is about 10-15 years normally. But if they get their nutrition properly, their life can also extend from 20 years. 

Can you kill hawks in Florida?

Hawks are aggressive birds and can kill animals to get their food. Yet, larger hawks kill many types of small creatures. Surely, they migrate in flocks and are dangerous for various yards. Basically, hawks visited the area of food feeders. If they make their territory in a beautiful yard, then they can eat all the smaller birds of a certain area. 

In this instance, people want to get hawks away from their yards. Moreover, they think about killing them immediately without using some technical tips. Although killing the Hawks in Florida is illegal. A person who kills the hawks will pay a fine as a punishment. Nevertheless, you can kill the hawks with permission, if they do not go away from your yard. With legal authority from federal law, you can save your livestock.

Tips to get rid of hawks from yard

There are the following tips to getting rid of hawks from Florida orchids to save your attractive birds. First and foremost, make sure to apply these tips away from smaller birds and animals. 

Fix larger decoy

Basically, each species feels scared of its predator. For getting the hawks away from the yard, you can set up larger decoy owls and cats. The tilted decoy feels like a real one. In this way, this method helps to protect your small species of birds.

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Remove birds feeders 

In fact, bird feeders attract various birds. Mourning doves, hummingbirds, cardinals, and sparrows come close to feeders. It will be suitable to remove the bird feeder from the orchid for a limited time. You can take off the feeders for one to two weeks. It will prevent smaller birds as well as hawks. When smaller species will never be present in your yard, then hawks will also migrate to another garden for food. 

Remove water bath

Water baths are the main source to attract the birds, and hawks keep their eyes on the targeted area. If you remove the water bath, then just not your yard but also smaller species will be safe. Otherwise, hawks make their permanent territory where they find food for the first time. 

Cut off deadhead plants

Mainly, hawks live in canopies around the bird’s nest. Well, trees can provide shelter for smaller birds. But hawks have a habit of hiding themselves in a bunch of leaves to find food. They suddenly attack smaller species and hold them with their feet. Due to their heavyweight, birds cannot escape from hawks’ grip. Therefore, your yard will remain friendless for various species. However, Hawks in Florida will also be dangerous for humans also. In this way, you can cut off deadhead plants, and wait for the migration of hawks. 

Reflecting deterrents 

Reflection can cause disturbance in clear vision. Various types of mirrors and deterrents can help to get rid of Florida hawks. No doubt, it will be dangerous for smaller birds also. But getting away from hawks is most important for living areas. After you succeed in your task, you can remove the deterrent and mirror for small birds’ ease.

Biggest hawks in Florida

Many types of hawks are larger in size, but northern goshawks are the biggest one amongst all hawks. Anyhow,  they are rarely present in Florida. So according to Florida hawks,  the red-tailed hawk is the biggest one. 

Comparison between northern goshawk and red tail hawks

With comparison, you will know about the clear difference between these hawks. So let’s see about their sizes and unique features. 

Northern goshawk size

A northern goshawk is more aggressive than other hawks. This is rarely present in Florida but prefers to live in South America. Anyway, the size of these birds is almost the same as red-tailed hawks. This bird is larger, about 64-69cm in length. Though, this measurement shows that northern goshawks are larger and dense. If we are talking about weight, then you will know that older goshawks are more than 1360-2150g. 

Therefore, the wingspan is also 13-16in. 

Another unique feature in goshawk is eye color. Most hawk’s eyes are black, but this bird has orange eyes. 

Red-tailed hawks size

The length of red-tailed hawks is about 55-65cm, which shows their smaller size. Not just this, but weight is also low, almost 1300-1460g. Lastly, the wingspan is almost 132-133cm in older birds. 

Surely, the above size of red-tailed hawk varies between males and females. 

Facts about hawks in Florida

  • Hawks look like owls with a physical appearance.
  • Bills of hawks are pointed and hooked but black in color. 
  • Most hawks have black eyes, but some have orange. 
  • The larger species of hawk is the goshawk, and the smaller one is the sparrow hawk. 
  • Also, hawks have sharp vision and good hearing. 
  • Females are larger, and males are smaller in hawks.

Food of hawks in Florida

As hawks want mammals, rodents, and small birds. In mammals, hawks like squirrels, and rabbits. Besides, rodents like rats and mice are likable by hawks. Mourning doves, cardinals, hummingbirds, blue jay, woodpecker are included in the food of hawks. There are also many other species that become the prey of aggressive hawks. 

Last words

Amongst various predators, hawks’ in Florida vision is sharp to fulfill food requirements for long life. Their aggressiveness keeps the small creature attentive to save them from hawks. To get rid of confusion, make sure owls, eagles, and hawks are different from one another. Numerous species of hawks are present in the world, but they are found in the United States. 

Hawks have different habits and behavior, but their food material is almost the same. Although, keeping them away from humans is the best decision for protected life. For birding, you can decide on hilly areas rather than attract them in your yard. Definitely, hawks look the same, but color, sizes and winges make them different from other hawks. 

Hopefully, now you will identify hawk species in your area. Keep trying to save your livestock with legal methods.