Hawks and Allies

Red-tailed Hawk, photo by Ron AustingBald Eagle, photo by Ron AustingHarris's Hawk, photo by Kevin Karlson

The family Accipitridae includes 28 species found in North America.

Hawks, Eagles, Kites, and Harriers occur worldwide. Most accipitrines take live prey. Members of the genera Accipiter take mainly birds, small mammals and reptiles. The broad-winged soaring hawks, such as the buteos, catch their prey on the ground, from the wing or from a perch. They feed mainly on mammals and reptiles, occasionally on birds. Eagles prey on large and small mammals, birds and reptiles; a few also eat carrion or 'pirate' food from other birds of prey. The Snail kite feeds only on snails which are captured in one foot from the wing. Kites of the genus Ictinia live in open country and feed mainly on insects, captured in the feet while on the wing and eaten in flight. They also take insects by sorties from a perch or from foliage. Bats may be taken in flight and snails and small vertebrates on the ground. The harriers fly low over the ground in open country or over marshes, dropping on prey that includes mammals, frogs, reptiles, insects and some birds. The Osprey occurs on lakes, rivers, and seacoasts in temperate and tropical regions. The feet are adapted for catching and holding fish captured by plunging into the water with the legs and talons extended to grasp the prey. 

Nests of the Accipitridae family are usually large structures of sticks and other material in a tree or on a rocky ledge or they may consist of little nest material on the ground. Harriers usually nest on the ground. Nests used in previous years are often renovated and used again. Eggs are rounded oval or nearly round, few are truly oval or pointed at one end. Eggs are laid at intervals of more than one day and incubation begins with the first egg, hence they hatch asynchronously and the young differ in size. Incubation periods in the larger species are from 45-50 days or more. In smaller species 31-38 days. In most species only the female incubates and she is fed by the male in or near the nest. The male may bring the food to a point near the nest and call the female to come to it.

Swallow-tailed Kite
White-tailed Kite
Snail Kite
Mississippi Kite
Bald Eagle
White-tailed Eagle
Steller's Sea-Eagle
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Northern Goshawk
Crane Hawk
Common Black-Hawk
Harris's Hawk
Gray Hawk
Roadside Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Broad-winged Hawk
Short-tailed Hawk
Swainson's Hawk
White-tailed Hawk
Zone-tailed Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Rough-legged Hawk
Ferruginous Hawk
Golden Eagle
Hook-billed Kite

Raptor Research Foundation
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary

Hawk Watch International

Hawk Migration Association
Raptor Education Foundation
Hawks - Patuxent Bird ID Center
Hawks Aloft
Carolina Raptor Center
Bald Eagle Information

International Osprey Foundation


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