Harris's hawk

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Harris's hawk
Scientific classification
Kingdom Information
Domain Eukaryota
Kingdom Animalia
Subkingdom Bilateria
Branch Deuterostomia
Phylum Information
Phylum Chordata
Sub-phylum Vertebrata
Infraphylum Gnathostomata
Class Information
Superclass Tetrapoda
Class Aves
Sub-class Neornithes
Infra-class Neoaves
Order Information
Order Accipitriformes
Sub-order Accipitres
Family Information
Superfamily Accipitroidea
Family Accipitridae
Sub-family Buteoninae
Genus Information
Genus Parabuteo
Species Information
Species P. unicinctus
Population statistics
Population Unknown (2016 est.)[1]
Conservation status Least concern[2]

Harris's hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus) is a bird of prey of the family Accipitridae, and found throughout much of southern North America and South America.


Harris's hawk is medium to large in size, about 18 to 23 inches in length, a wingspan of 41 to 47 inches, and weigh 1.545 to 3.6 pounds. Females are larger than males, up to 35%. Adults are predominately dark blackish-brown above and below. Both the upper and lower wing coverts, as well as thigh feathers, are chestnut-brown. The tail feathers are long, white in color, and offset by a single, wide black band. The long, powerful beak is yellow at the base and goes from light gray to dark gray at its tip. Juvenile birds are lighter in color, and marked with streaks on the underside.

The call is described as a harsh, shrill bark[3].



It is found in dry to semi-arid deserts, dry tropical and sub-tropical forests, sparsely vegetated grasslands with low tree population, and wetlands, to an elevation of 1,200 to over 3,000 feet. Some zoologists suggest that his social way of life is a survival strategy due to the barren existence in dry areas.


The prey animals range from small birds to lizards and snakes, and rodents to rabbits. Unlike many birds of prey, Harris's hawk is social; they cooperatively hunt in a group of up to seven birds, led by an older, more experienced bird[4]. Some birds act as scouts, others as drivers. with some acting as hunters in the air. If a prey animal attempts to hide in a thicket, some birds will land and drive them out into the open, where they are killed by other members of the group. The division of labor in hunting is not fixed rigidly and changes from situation to situation.


The species is not monogamous; both parent birds may be assisted in nest building and the rearing of the young by other males. The nest is placed on cactus or trees from fifteen to thirty feet in height. The nesting material consists of roots, sticks, weeds and moss, lined with hair and feathers, and built more or less flat. The female lays her eggs in March (first brood in the year) at intervals of three days, for two to five eggs, the number depending on the available food supply. The eggs are white with a slight bluish tinge. The female is the primary incubator, while the males search for food and defend the nest. 17 days after hatching, the juveniles are already feathered all over. About 40 days after hatching, the young birds are full-fledged and temporarily leave the nest, but remain in their vicinity for two to three months. Young birds do not yet possess the social behavior of the adult birds. With good food supply, a pair can breed up to three times a year. A family association can last up to three years, with young birds from the previous year sometimes participating in the care of the new siblings.


The ICUN has classified this species as least concern, due to a large population and extensive range. The North American population has shown a slight decline in numbers, in part due to habitat degradation resulting from oil exploration, urban development, and brush control in mesquite habitat. Many birds have also been electrocuted due to using telephone poles as hunting perches[5]; utility companies have address this problem and have taken steps to ensure protection of this and other bird species[6][7].


  1. https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/22695838/93529685#population
  2. https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/22695838/93529685
  3. https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Parabuteo-unicinctus
  4. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Harriss_Hawk/lifehistory
  5. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/James_Dwyer2/publication/250221703_Return_Rates_of_Aluminum_Versus_Plastic_Leg_Bands_from_Electrocuted_Harris%27s_Hawks_Parabuteo_unicinctus/links/00b7d52eac2c446675000000/Return-Rates-of-Aluminum-Versus-Plastic-Leg-Bands-from-Electrocuted-Harriss-Hawks-Parabuteo-unicinctus.pdf
  6. https://energynews.us/2014/03/11/midwest/illinois-utility-protects-birds-from-power-lines-and-vice-versa/
  7. http://www.pgecurrents.com/2014/06/20/video-pge-avian-plan-protects-birds-and-keeps-the-lights-on-for-customers/