Harris's Hawk is a raptor of dry habitats in the southwestern United States.
Their range also extends southward through much of Mexico and into South
America. They are unusual compared to the similar Buteo family of
hawks in that they are relatively social. Small groups of 2 or 3
(occasionally up to 8) Harris Hawks will roost and hunt together, with
individual birds cooperatively chasing prey, with one bird flushing the prey
and another capturing it. When prey is captured, it is often consumed
by multiple birds in the social group. They are equally unusual in
their nesting habits. One female will often raise young in conjunction
with two males, with all three adult birds helping to incubate the eggs and
raise the young.
Habitat: Harris's Hawks are found in a variety of
dry, open habitat. In the Sonoran Desert they are found in saguaro
cactus deserts, while in New Mexico and Texas, they are found in mesquite
woodlands and riparian zones.
Diet: Feeds on many different small animals,
including rodents and other small mammals, birds, lizards, snakes, and large
Behavior: More gregarious than many hawks, with
two or more Harris's Hawks often roosting together and hunting together.
Hunting is most often done by flying relatively close to the ground and
rapidly pursuing prey if spotted. When hunting cooperatively, Harris's
Hawks will often share larger prey items that are caught.
Nesting: The nest of a Harris's Hawk is a bulky
platform of sticks, usually lined with twigs and grasses. The nest is
typically in the crook of a saguaro cacus or in a small tree. Both
males and females will help to build the nest, incubate the eggs, and help
to raise the young.
Song: High-pitched screaming coweeeeeeeer.
Migration: Considered a permanent resident
throughout its range, although some birds make short distance movements in
response to feeding opportunities.
Common Black Hawk, Zone-tailed Hawk,
Conservation Status: Numbers have declined in
recent decades in the United States portion of their range. However,
globally there are currently no
perceived major threats to Harris's Hawk populations, and
IUCN cites it as a species of "Least Concern".
Photo Information: December 10th, 2010 - Saguaro
National Park, Arizona - Terry Sohl