Harris’s Hawks

By Dan Weisz

I shared a few photos of Harris’s Hawks in my “Birds in Flight” email. Below is a collection of the Harris’s Hawk family that I’m following mid-town. Harris’s Hawk families live throughout the Foothills also. They are iconic birds of the Southwest. Enjoy them!

On one overcast afternoon, one hawk perched at the very top of a tall tree snag.

The couple shared the snag for a while. Looking at the two birds, you can see that the bird atop the snag is smaller than the one below. That makes me think that the upper bird is the male, and the larger bird below is the female. In raptors, females are larger than the males are.

On a pole, calling for its mate. Harris’s Hawks are very social birds usually living in family groups of up to seven birds. Scientists have identified up to eight different vocalization for this species. Because they are so social, they need a more complex language to communicate.

The next day, with clear skies, one of the birds assumed the exact same perch spot and pose as the bird in the first photo above. What a difference the background makes in a photo! Each bird’s left foot is in the exact same position as well.

More perching. Harris’s Hawks are about the same size as Red-tailed Hawks: up to 2 feet in length, weighing between one and two pounds with a wingspan of almost four feet.
They do not have feathers on their face between their beak and their eyes. They are sub-tropical birds and perhaps that is a feature that helps to cool their faces. We’re not sure.
One other note- Studies have shown that Harris’s Hawks spend up to 96% of their daytime hours just sitting perched! And that’s what they do all night long as well.

One of the Harris’s Hawks (looks like the female) caught a round-tailed ground squirrel.

Here she is repositioning herself amid a wing stretch.

And then she flew off for another perch, taking her prey with her. Although the telephone wire is in the way, this shows her at the moment of take-off.

And off she went.

More Harris’s Hawks photos to come!

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