Photo by Bill Araujo

Harris's Hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus)

Fun Fact

Harris's Hawks hung cooperatively


"Para" is greek for "beside or near"; "uni" is latin for "once"; "cinctus" also latin, means girdled, which refers to the white band at the base of the tail.

Life Span

12 years in the wild; ~25 years in captivity.

Conservation Status

IUCN Least Concern


A medium-sized hawk. Mostly Dark with a white rump and undertail. Juveniles are similar to adults, except their underparts are streaked with varying amounts of buffy coloration. Rufous patches reduced and less prominent. The underwing has whitish primaries, which are conspicuous in flight. Tail is crossed with many fine brownish bars; base and tip white.

Photo Courtesy of

Photo Courtesy of


18.1-23.2 in (46-59 cm)


40.6-48.8 in (103-124 cm


18.2-57.5 oz (515-1630 g)


Harris's Hawks can be found in sparse woodland and semi-arid desert, as well as marshes in some parts of their range, which includes mangrove swamps, as in parts of their South American range. Harris's Hawks are permanent residents and do not migrate.

A Harris's Hawk nestling begs for food, photo by Steve Franklin

A Harris's Hawk nestling begs for food, photo by Steve Franklin


Arid lowland scrub; arid montane scrub; tropical deciduous forests, low seasonally wet grassland, recently in some suburbs of desert cities.


Diet consists of small animals including birds, lizards, large insects, and mammals. Because it often hunts in groups, the Harris's Hawk can take down larger prey, such as jackrabbits.


Harris's Hawks only come together for breeding and migration, however, they will hunt cooperatively in groups of two to six. This is thought to be an adaptation to the desert climate in which they live.


Typicaly nests in small trees, shrubby growth, or cacti. The nests are often small, made of sticks, plant roots, and are often lined with leaves, moss, bark, or plant roots. The majority of nest building is done by the female. Clutch size of two to four white-blueish eggs, sometimes with brown or gray speckling Female does most of the incubation.

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InfoNatura: Animals and Ecosystems of Latin America [web application]. 2007. Version 5.0 . Arlington, Virginia (USA): NatureServe. Available: (Accessed: October 24, 2012 ).

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