Hawks in New Mexico: 14 Species You’ve Got To See

Hawks in New Mexico are a fantastic sight to behold. The majestic birds soar through the skies, searching for prey and surveying their territories with sharp eyes.

The presence of hawks can also benefit humans, as they help keep rodent populations in check. Hawks will often hunt small rodents such as voles, mice, and rats that can cause damage to crops or spread disease. They also control insect populations by preying on grasshoppers, beetles, and other insects that may harm local vegetation.

Species of Hawks in New Mexico

New Mexico is home to various hawks, ranging from the small American kestrel to the more prominent ferruginous hawks. Many species of hawks can be seen soaring above the mountains, deserts, and rivers that make up this diverse landscape. For birdwatchers and nature lovers, spotting hawks in New Mexico is exciting and rewarding.

Cooper’s Hawk

Cooper’s Hawks are one of the most widespread raptors in North America, and they can be found throughout New Mexico. They are medium-sized hawks with striking gray and white plumage, bold red eyes, and a characteristic rounded tail. Cooper’s Hawks inhabit various habitats in New Mexico, including desert scrubland, coniferous forests, riparian areas, and even urban parks.

These hawks typically hunt smaller birds like doves or jays by swooping down on them from above at speeds up to 40 mph. They also hunt small mammals such as rats or squirrels by stalking them on the ground or snatching them out of trees or shrubs. Cooper’s Hawks nest in wooded areas near streams or rivers for optimal hunting grounds.


• Scientific name: Accipiter Striatus
• Length of males: 14.6-15.3 inches
• Length of females: 16.5-17.7 inches
• Weight of males: 7.8-14.5 ounces
• Weight of females: 11.6-24.0 ounces
• Wingspan of males: 24.4-35.4 inches
• Wingspan of females: 29.5-35.4 inches

Harris’s Hawk

Hawks in New Mexico

The Harris’s Hawk is an iconic species in the Southwest, and New Mexico is no exception. The Harris’s Hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus) is a medium-sized hawk that can be seen throughout the state of New Mexico. It has an unmistakable silhouette with its reddish-brown wings and long tail.

They live in various habitats, from deserts to woodlands. They have adapted well to human presence and are often found near towns or cities. Harris’s Hawks in New Mexico can be seen soaring over open fields or perched atop tall saguaro cactus on the rocky foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. During nesting season, they build large nests high in trees or on cliffs, laying up to four eggs each year.


• Scientific name: Parabuteo Unicinctus
• Length:18.1-23.2 inches
• Weight:18.2-31.0 ounces
• Wingspan: 40.5-46.9 inches

Northern Harrier

The Northern Harrier Hawk is a majestic bird of prey found in New Mexico’s skies. This species of hawks have adapted to live in grasslands, marshes, and other open areas like airports, golf courses, and even urban parks.

This is a medium-sized raptor with a wingspan of about four feet. Its brown back and white chest give it an unmistakable silhouette as it soars through the sky, searching for its next meal.

Their diet consists mainly of small mammals like voles and mice, which they hunt by flying low over fields and meadows while using their keen eyesight to detect potential prey.


• Scientific name: Circus Hudsonius
• Length:18.1-19.7 inches
• Weight:10.6-26.5 ounces
• Wingspan:40.2-46.5 inches

Sharp-Shinned Hawk

The sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus) is a small raptor native to North America. It is found in forests and wooded areas throughout Mexico, particularly the southwestern provinces. This species of Hawk is easily recognizable due to its slender body and pointed wings. The sharp-shinned Hawk has a relatively long tail that helps it maneuver quickly while chasing after its prey in pursuit.

They have been observed breeding in New Mexico since the early 20th century when they first appeared in the state’s mountain ranges and desert valleys. Although their population has declined slightly over time, these birds are still commonly seen hunting among coniferous trees and shrubs across the region.


• Scientific name: Accipiter Striatus
• Length:9.4-13.4 inches
• Weight:3.1-7.7 ounces
• Wingspan:16.9-22.1 inches

Red-Tailed Hawk

The red-tailed Hawk is found throughout the state, but it prefers habitats that provide plenty of open space and trees for hunting. In New Mexico, they’re most likely to be seen soaring over vast fields or perched atop fence posts in rural areas.

They have powerful talons for prey capture and curved beaks built to tear flesh from their food sources. These raptors feed on small mammals such as mice, voles, squirrels, rabbits, and birds like quail or doves.


• Scientific name:ButeoJamaicensis
• Length of males: 17.7-22.1 inches
• Length of females: 19.7-25.6 inches
• Weight of males: 24.3-45.9 ounces
• Weight of females: 31.8-51.5 ounces
• Wingspan of males:44.9-52.4 inches
• Wingspan of females: 44.9-52.4 inches

Northern Goshawk

The Northern Goshawk is a large, majestic bird of prey found in New Mexico’s forests. These birds have a wing span of up to four feet and are light gray on top and barred with black, white, and brown underneath. They use their sharp talons to catch prey, such as rabbits, squirrels, and other small animals. The Northern Goshawk is also known for its loud call, which sounds like “cash-cash.”

In the past few years, there has been an increase in the population of these raptors across the country. This trend is especially evident in New Mexico, where their numbers steadily increase due to improved habitat conditions and better management practices.


• Scientific name:Accipiter Gentilis
• Length:20.9-25.2 inches
• Weight:22.3-48.1 ounces
• Wingspan:40.5-46.1 inches


Hawks in New Mexico

Swainson’sHawk is a species of Hawk that resides mainly in the western and midwestern United States. It is most commonly seen in New Mexico, where it thrives due to its variety of habitat types. The Swainson’sHawk is a large bird of prey with brown upperparts and white underparts that its distinct white eyebrow line can easily identify.

This species of hawk tend to migrate south into Mexico during winter to take advantage of more abundant food sources. During this time, they can be found along coastal areas or even as far south as Argentina. When they are back in New Mexico during their breeding season, they typically nest in trees near open grasslands and shrub-steppe habitats, making them easier to observe than other raptors, which may choose more remote nesting locations.


• Scientific name: ButeoSwainsoni
• Length:18.9-22.1 inches
• Weight:24.4-48.2 ounces
• Wingspan:46-54 inches

Common Black Hawk

Hawks in New Mexico

The Common Black Hawk, a majestic raptor native to North America, has recently been seen in increasing numbers in New Mexico. This species of Hawk prefers open and riparian woodlands for its habitat and can be found near rivers, lakes, and other water sources. The Common Black Hawk is a medium-sized hawk with a wingspan of 3.2–4 feet, black plumage, and distinctive red eyes.

These beautiful hawks are often seen soaring through the skies of New Mexico, looking for food such as small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects, or carrion. During their territorial displays, they can be heard calling out with loud cackles or squawks, which can send chills down your spine if you’re unlucky enough to listen to them!


• Scientific name: ButeogallusAnthracinus
• Length:17–21 inches
• Weight:33 ounces
• Wingspan:50 inches

Broad-Winged Hawk

Hawks in New Mexico

The Broad-Winged Hawk is a unique species of raptor that takes up residence in New Mexico. This majestic bird can be found soaring gracefully through the skies of the American Southwest, with its incredible wingspan and eyesight allowing it to defend itself from predators and hunt for food.

As a part of their yearly migration cycle, Broad-Winged Hawks travel thousands of miles from their summer homes in northern climates to warmer areas like New Mexico during the winter months. During this time, they are often seen gliding over open fields and forests as they seek potential prey. With their distinctive brown feathers and white underside, these birds make quite an impression when spotted perched on trees or high telephone poles.


• Scientific name: ButeoPlatypterus
• Length:13.4-17.3 inches
• Weight:9.3-19.8 ounces
• Wingspan:31.9-39.4 inches

Zone-Tailed Hawk

Hawks in New Mexico

The zone-tailed Hawk, a native of the Southwestern United States, is an impressive sight to behold in New Mexico. Known for its unique tail feathers and black and white stripes resembling a ring-tailed lemur’s fur, the raptor is a beautiful addition to the sky. While it shares many similarities with other buteo hawks, including size and shape, it stands out from its brethren due to its plumage and behavior.

Zone-tailed hawks are highly skilled predators that inhabit open forests or woodlands near canyons or cliffs, where they find ample hunting opportunities. In New Mexico, they can often be seen soaring gracefully on thermals as they search for prey such as small mammals, reptiles, and insects. They also eat large birds like doves or jays when given the opportunity.


• Scientific name:ButeoAlbonotatus
• Length:17.7-22.1 inches
• Weight of males: 21.4-4.9 ounces
• Weight of females: 29.8-33.0 ounces
• Wingspan of males: 29.9-30.9 inches
• Wingspan of females:32.2-34.5 inches

Rough-legged Hawk

The Rough-Legged Hawk is a majestic raptor species typically residing in North America’s northern arctic and boreal taiga regions. However, New Mexico is home to a growing population of these birds during the winter.

Native Americans have long admired this species for its unique characteristics. Its paws are powerful, allowing it to easily catch its prey, while its wings are more pointed than those of other hawks and feature intricate feather patterns of light browns and grays. During the colder months, Rough-Legged Hawks can be found on open grasslands or near agricultural fields, where they hunt small mammals such as voles and mice. They make their nests on cliff sides or tall trees and lay their eggs between April and June each year.


• Scientific name:ButeoLagopus
• Length:18.5-20.5 inches
• Weight:25.2-49.4 ounces
• Wingspan:52.0-54.3 inches

Ferruginous Hawk

Hawks in New Mexico

The Ferruginous Hawk is one of the most iconic birds of New Mexico. With its distinct coloring and large wingspan, this magnificent bird can be found soaring above the state’s wide-open skies. It is primarily grassland but also inhabits chaparral, sagebrush steppe, and arid desert areas in New Mexico.

This Hawk typically nests in trees or on cliff faces, with an average clutch size consisting of two to three eggs per breeding season. It prefers to feed on small mammals such as ground squirrels and jackrabbits but will occasionally hunt reptiles and insects. Its conservation status is listed as “Least Concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN); however, its population numbers have decreased due to human activity encroaching upon their habitats.


• Scientific name:ButeoRegalis
• Length:22.1-27.2 inches
• Weight:34.5-73.2 ounces
• Wingspan:52.4-55.9 inches

Red-Shouldered Hawk

The Red-Shouldered Hawk is a beautiful and majestic bird of prey found in New Mexico. These powerful birds of prey can grow up to two feet long, with solid wingspans reaching nearly four feet wide. Red-Shouldered Hawks are known for their striking feathers, which range from deep brown to reddish-brown on the upper parts, and white bellies with black barring. They have bright yellow eyes and distinctive red patches on their shoulders that give them their name.

These beloved birds of New Mexico are mainly found in wooded areas near rivers, swamps, or lakes. They feed primarily on small mammals like rodents, snakes, insects, reptiles, amphibians, fish, crustaceans, and carrion.


• Scientific name:ButeoLineatus
• Length:16.9-24.0 inches
• Weight:17.1-27.3 ounces
• Wingspan:37.0-43.7 inches

Gray Hawk

Hawks in New Mexico

Gray hawks are a majestic species of raptor that have been sighted throughout New Mexico for many years. The Gray Hawk (Buteo plagiarist) is one of the more common birds of prey found in the region and can often be seen soaring high above the desert landscape in search of their favorite food: lizards and insects. They typically inhabit open woodlands near streams, rivers, and other bodies of water, as well as arid grasslands and canyon-riddled areas.

These medium-sized raptors tend to perch atop tall trees or shrubs while hunting for small mammals, reptiles, and amphibians like frogs or snakes. In addition to preying on smaller animals, Gray Hawks also scavenge carrion from dead animals when necessary.


• Scientific name:ButeoPlagiatus
• Length:18–24 inches
• Weight:13.8-16.6 ounces
• Wingspan:35 inches

Final Thoughts

The presence of hawks in New Mexico has been an exciting experience for birdwatchers and nature lovers. The majestic birds, with their impressive wingspan and unique coloring, can be observed in various habitats across the state. Hawks have become an integral part of the state’s ecology and are essential to maintaining sustainable ecosystems. Everyone must take appropriate steps to ensure these birds remain safe and healthy in New Mexico’s diverse environment.

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