Harris Hawk

Name

Harris hawk

Scientific Name

Parabuteo unicinctus

Characteristics

The Harris hawk is a large bird with mostly dark brown plumage. Their thighs and wing linings are chestnut coloured. These birds can weigh over a kilogram, with the female bird being significantly larger than the male.

One of the Harris hawk’s most impressive attributes is its vision which is far superior to a human’s. Their incredible vision helps them to hunt during the day; they are able to focus on their prey from a long distance before homing in on it to hunt. Harris hawks are unique amongst birds of prey, due to the fact that they hunt together and share any food that they catch.

In the wild, Harris hawks often live in large family groups, of between 4 and 12 birds. These groups are known as casts. The female of the species is the most dominant of the sexes due to her superior size. A female Harris hawk will often mate with 2 males and allow both to help with the incubation of eggs and the rearing of chicks. 

Diet

They mostly eat small mammals such as rabbits, rats and mice.

Size Fact

Harris hawks can grow up to 76cm long.

Food Fact

They hunt in packs and so have earnt the nickname ‘wolves of the sky’.

Fun Fact

If there is no room to perch, Harris hawks sit on top of each other - this is known as ‘back stacking’!

IUCN Red list

Least concern

Where do I live?

North America and some parts of Central and South America

Daily talk

The Harris hawks regularly feature in the Birds of Prey display.

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