Harris’s Hawk


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Scientific Name:

  • “Parabuteo unicinctus.” Greek and Latin origin: “para”, meaning beside, near or like; “buteo”, referring to a kind of buzzard; “uni” meaning once; and “cinctus” meaning girdled, referring to the white band at the tip of the tail.


  • Lowland areas from the southwestern border of the U.S., south to southern Chile, central Argentina, and Paraguay; found east into Venezuela and the interior of Brazil, and south to Santa Catharina.


  • Sparse woodlands or semi-desert regions.


  • Small mammals, such as rats and rabbits, as well as birds, reptiles and even insects.


  • Very family oriented, Harris’s Hawks are the only known birds of prey to hunt cooperatively in groups.
  • Young from the previous year help the parents raise the next clutch of 2-4 eggs. The nest is usually less than 30 feet above the ground.
  • Known for a behavior called “stacking”, one bird will perch on the top of a cactus, and as other family members approach, they will ball up their feet and land on the shoulders of the perched bird; as many as 4 birds will stand on their backs!


  • Small, heavy-set raptor with blackish or sooty brown with shoulders, thighs, and underwing coverts a chestnut color; upper and undertail coverts, as well as a one-inch band at the tip of the tail are white.
  • Eyes are dark brown; with eyelids, cere, and legs being yellow.
  • Immature birds vaguely streaked with white on breast and abdomen and thighs are barred with white; their upper parts are more or less edged with a rufous color, and outer tail feathers are barred.
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