Hawks in Ohio are a common sight for birdwatchers around the state. These birds of prey can be found soaring around fields and forests, looking for food and potential mates. Ohio is no exception, with a large population of hawks. There are several reasons for this. First, Ohio has a large open habitat, perfect for hawks to hunt and soar. Second, Ohio is home to several important hawk sanctuaries, which provide a haven for these birds.
Top Species of Hawks in Ohio
Here are some of the top species of hawks found in Ohio and why they’re so special.
Cooper’s hawks are a large species of hawk native to North America, and their sightings in Ohio have been on the rise since the late 1800s. Also known as Accipiter cooperii, these birds of prey can be recognized by their light grey head and chest feathers, distinctive reddish barring across the belly, and long tails that end in rounded tips.
This adept hunter feeds mainly on small mammals like squirrels and rabbits but will also take advantage of larger animals when available. The bird has also been known to take part in scavenging activities such as stealing food from other raptors or feeding on dead animals found near streams or roadsides. In Ohio specifically, this species is most common during migration season, when it passes through the state between April and October each year.
• Scientific Name: Accipiter Cooperii
• Length:14.6-17.7 inches
• Weight:7.8-24.0 ounces
• Wingspan:24.4-35.4 inches
The Sharp-Shinned Hawk has been a frequent visitor to Ohio skies over the past few years, delighting birdwatchers in the region. A small but powerful hawk, these birds are known for their impressive speed and agility, allowing them to catch unsuspecting prey with ease.
The Sharp-Shinned Hawks in Ohio can be seen in many parts of the state throughout the year. These majestic birds are easily recognizable due to their dark grey body feathers and red bar across their underside. They typically hunt in open fields or along wooded edges, where they can swoop down quickly on unsuspecting prey such as small rodents and songbirds.
In recent years, conservation efforts have worked to protect this species from decline due to habitat loss and other environmental threats.
• Scientific Name: Accipiter Striatus
• Length:9.4-13.4 inches
• Weight:3.1-7.7 ounces
• Wingspan: 16.9-22.1 inches
Broad-Winged Hawks in Ohio
The Broad-Winged Hawk is one of the most iconic raptors in Ohio and can be found throughout much of the state, especially during its migration season. This large bird of prey belongs to the family Accipitridae and is known for its broad wingspan, which averages from 34 to 39 inches.
The Broad-Winged Hawk typically nests high up in trees near open fields or meadows, where it can easily spot prey such as mice, rats, voles, and small birds. It is a regular sight for many people living in the mid-western United States and a great example of how diverse wildlife can be within an area. During migration season, these hawks stop off in Ohio on their way through North America to breed and raise their young before they move on again.
• Scientific Name: ButeoPlatypterus
• Length:13.4-17.4 inches
• Weight:9.3-19.8 ounces
• Wingspan:31.9-39.4 inches
The Red-Tailed Hawk is a majestic raptor seen in Ohio’s skies. These large hawks are the most common species in North America and migrate to Ohio during the summer months. The Red-Tailed Hawks have been spotted throughout the state, including urban areas like Cleveland, Akron, and Columbus.
These hawks usually prey on small mammals such as mice, chipmunks, and rabbits; however, they will also take advantage of bird feeders or hunt insects if available. They’re known for their signature red-brown tail feathers, which can be seen while they’re soaring through the sky or perched atop telephone poles or trees. To identify them from other birds of prey, you should look for their hooked bill and white chest with black streaks running down them.
• Scientific Name:ButeoJamaicensis
• Length:17.7-25.6 inches
• Weight:31.8-51.5 ounces
• Wingspan:44.9-52.4 inches
The Red-Shouldered Hawk is a species of hawk found in Ohio. It is one of the most recognizable birds in North America due to its unique appearance and call. The red-shouldered hawk gets its name from the large red patches on either side of its chest and shoulders. This bird has a long tail with bold black and white stripes, and it can be identified by its loud “kee-ahh” call, which sounds like it’s saying “caw caw.”
These hawks are usually found near wooded areas along streams or rivers, feeding primarily on small mammals such as mice, squirrels, rabbits, and lizards. They also enjoy eating snakes, fish, frogs, insects, and even smaller birds!
• Scientific Name:ButeoLineatus
• Length:16.9-24.0 inches
• Weight:17.1-27.3 ounces
• Wingspan:37.0-47.3 inches
The Swainson’s hawk is a migratory bird of prey found in Ohio and much of the United States. With its distinctive white stripes below its chest, the Swainson’s hawk is an unmistakable sight soaring through the sky. This majestic bird typically breeds between April and June in Ohio, while they migrate to their wintering grounds from July through October.
These hawks in Ohio are raptors that feed mainly on small mammals, such as humans and mice. They also feed on insects, lizards, snakes, frogs, and other birds. Hawks typically hunt from a perch before swooping down for their prey or slowly hovering over grassland habitats before diving for food.
• Scientific Name: ButeoSwainsoni
• Length:8.9-22.1 inches
• Weight: 24.4-48.2 ounces
• Wingspan:45-56 inches
The Northern Goshawk is a raptor species found in forests of the Northern Hemisphere. It is known for its robust physique and long, broad wingspan. The Northern Goshawk is an uncommon but regular visitor in Ohio, especially during migration season.
Those lucky enough to spot one can identify it by its grey body with white patches on the upper side and dark bars on the underside of its tail. This species has red eyes, yellow legs and feet covered in feathers. The male Goshawk usually has a slimmer build than the female.
Northern Goshawks primarily hunt small mammals such as rabbits and squirrels and sometimes even larger birds like grouse, pheasants, and ducks. They prefer mixed woodlands over open fields or deep forests, as they need to take off from trees quickly when necessary.
• Scientific Name: Accipiter Gentilis
• Length:20.9-25.2 inches
• Weight:22.3-48.1 ounces
• Wingspan:40.5-46.1 inches
The Northern Harrier is a unique species of hawk found in Ohio, and it’s an impressive sight to behold. The bird has a distinctive white patch on the back of its head and brown wings with black tips. Its long wingspan produces silent flight, making it an efficient hunter who can stay airborne for extended periods.
The Northern Harrier primarily feeds on small rodents such as voles and mice. It hunts by flying low over open fields or grasslands in search of prey while also listening for any rustling sounds beneath the surface. Its acute hearing helps it locate potential meals even in tall grass or dense shrubbery.
In Ohio, the Northern Harrier has been considered a threatened species due to habitat loss and degradation caused by human activity such as farming and development projects.
• Scientific Name: Circus Hudsonius
• Length:18.1-19.7 inches
• Weight: 10.6-26.5 ounces
• Wingspan:40.2-46.5 inches
The Rough-Legged Hawk is a large, dark raptor that usually makes its home in the Arctic tundra and northern boreal forests of Northern Europe, Asia, and North America. However, this winter, many have been spotted migrating south from their usual habitats—one of which was seen near Cincinnati earlier this month.
This is unique among other birds of prey for its long wings and feathered legs that extend down to its paws. Its primary diet consists mainly of small mammals such as voles and lemmings, but it will also hunt for carrion if necessary. During the winter, these hawks can be seen soaring high above open fields in search of prey or atop trees looking out over vast expanses of land with their keen eyesight.
• Scientific Name:ButeoLagopus
• Length:18.5-20.5 inches
• Weight:25.2-49.4 ounces
• Wingspan:52.0-54.3 inches
Harris’s Hawks in Ohio
Harris’s hawks are a unique species of raptor native to the desert regions of North and South America. This majestic bird can soar up to more than two miles in the air and is known for its agility and speed. In recent years, Harris’s hawk has been spotted in Ohio, bringing excitement to birdwatchers across the state.
The birds were first noticed in Wayne County in 2012, where a pair was observed perched atop a telephone pole near an abandoned farmhouse. Since then, sightings have become more frequent, with reports of single birds being seen throughout Central and Southern Ohio. These observations bring hope that the species may be establishing itself within the Ohio region as a permanent resident population.
Local conservationists have been actively monitoring these sightings while providing safety measures to protect their habitats from external threats such as poaching or habitat destruction.
• Scientific Name: ParabuteoUnicinctus
• Length:18.1-23.2 inches
• Weight:18.2-31.0 ounces
• Wingspan: 40.5-46.9 inches
The hawks in Ohio have been a symbol of hope and regeneration for the state’s people. It reminds them to be resilient, to remain positive, and to take action when necessary. The hawk also serves as a reminder that conservation efforts are essential for maintaining a healthy environment so that generations can continue to benefit from the state’s natural beauty. All Ohioans should be proud of their species’ impact on their home and work together to ensure its protection for years to come.