Hawks in Georgia (7 Species with Pictures)

hawks in georgia

In the state of Georgia there are only seven different species of hawks that can be found.

These hawks are:

  • Red-Tailed Hawk
  • Broad-Winged Hawk
  • Red-Shouldered Hawk
  • Cooper’s Hawk
  • Sharp-Shinned Hawk
  • Rough-Legged Hawk
  • Northern Harrier

Want to learn more? This book on the Birds of Prey of North America is a fantastic read!

Six of these species are common residents of the state whilst the Rough-legged Hawk is only seen occasionally.

Georgia has what is classified as a subtropical climate. This means that the state has long and humid summers but only short and mild winters.

There are 63 different state parks throughout Georgia and 12 different National parks.

Now that we’ve looked at the area of Georgia, let’s take a look at the hawks that can be found in Georgia in further individual detail.

Want to attract birds of prey to your yard? Take a look at our article!

What Hawks can be seen in Georgia?

Table of Contents

1. Sharp-Shinned Hawk

Sharp-Shinned Hawk

Sharp-Shinned Hawk” by ‘Dennis Murhpy‘ is licensed under CC BY 2.0





Life Expectancy

3 years


Robins and Thrushes

These hawks have pale brown bellies and contrasting dark brown feathers that cover their wings.

These birds are most commonly seen in dense forest areas and, particularly during the breeding seasons, they will not make their nests in areas of low vegetation.

Sharp-shinned Hawks are classified as pursuit hunters and most of their diet is made up of small species of songbirds, though they will also eat small mammals.

During their breeding seasons these birds are a lot less active to reduce their risk of predation.

The pairs will nest together under areas of deep forest cover and on average produce 3-8 eggs per brood and only one brood per breeding season.

These hawks are also only found in Georgia outside of their breeding seasons.

However, unlike the Rough-Legged Hawk, the range of these birds encompasses all areas of the state.

They are most commonly found in the northeast of the state and appear to have less frequent sightings in the more central regions of the state.

2. Cooper’s Hawk

Cooper's Hawk





Life Expectancy

Up to 12 years


Small Birds, Mice & Squirrels

Cooper’s Hawks have a medium-sized body but are known for having large heads.

They have red barred feathers on their underbellies and their back wings are a slate grey colour.

Whilst these birds have been seen nesting in leafy suburbs, they do prefer denser areas of forests and sightings of these hawks in parks have become more common in recent years.

These birds have very fast and powerful flights when hunting for prey, they most commonly consume smaller species of birds.

Males and females of this species will build their nests together after the male has performed a bowing display for her. Not much else is known about their breeding behaviors.

You can see these birds throughout all seasons in the state of Georgia. They can also be seen in all regions of the state.

They have most commonly been sighted along the western border, but they are relatively evenly distributed throughout the state.

3. Red-Shouldered Hawk

Red-Shouldered Hawk





Life Expectancy

2 years


Small mammals, reptiles & amphibians

Red-shouldered Hawks are medium-sized hawks with white and dark feathers covering their bodies in a checked pattern.

They have warm brown feathers covering their underbellies. You can see these birds in forest areas, usually in areas close to flooded swamps.

These hawks hunt by hovering in circles and their prey mostly consists of small mammals, such as mice and lemmings.

Red-shouldered hawks have been known to attack birds such as Great Horned Owls and Crows, due to their territorial nature.

But they have also attacked humans that move too close to their nests. Males of this species have a mating display made up of a series of dives that is referred to as a ‘sky dance’.

Much like most of the other hawks on this list, these birds are permanent residents of the state of Georgia.

They can also be seen in all areas of the state. There have been many sightings of these hawks in all areas of Georgia, though they appear to be more commonly sighted in the southern regions of the state.

4. Broad-Winged Hawk

Broad-Winged Hawk

Broad Winged Hawk” by ‘Felipe Uribe‘ is licensed under CC BY 2.0





Life Expectancy

Up to 20 years


Small mammals & insects

These hawks have very wide and broad wings, which is where they got their name.

They have brown feathers on their wings and heads and their bellies are pale. These hawks are forest residents and will usually reside in woodland areas that are close to bodies of water.

It is very unlikely that you will see these birds close to areas of human activity as they do not like to nest in urban areas.

Breeding pairs are monogamous, but they will not interact with one another outside of the breeding seasons. Some of these birds also keep the same breeding pairs for years to come.

These birds can be seen in all areas of Georgia, but because they are migratory birds, they can only be seen in the state during their breeding seasons.

This is the season when they are most active, and they have been most frequently sighted in the northern regions of the state.

5. Red-Tailed Hawk

Red-Tailed Hawk





Life Expectancy

10-15 years


Small mammals, mice & voles

These birds are easily identifiable by their tails which are covered in warm brown and rusty colored feathers.

Red-tailed hawks have been seen in a large variety of habitats, but they usually stay in areas of open woodlands.

When it comes to their territory, these birds are very defensive and can be very aggressive with other birds. They have been known to get into fights with and chase off other hawks, eagles and certain species of owls.

These birds are monogamous and form mating pairs that will stay together for life. However, if one individual dies the other bird will find a new partner.

These birds are found in Georgia year-round, though some birds are only in the state outside of their breeding seasons.

Their range encompasses all areas of the state and they have a relatively even distribution of sightings, but they appear to be sighted a little less in the southern half of the state.

6. Rough-Legged Hawk

Rough-Legged Hawk





Life Expectancy

Up to 18 years


Small rodents

These hawks are known for their long tail feathers and their smaller bills. Rough-legged Hawks make their nests most commonly in grasslands and prefer to roost in more open areas.

These hawks are active mostly at dawn and dusk, but they are active throughout the whole day. Their prey consists of small rodents such as voles.

Whilst the courtship display of this bird is very minimal in comparison to other species, these birds stay monogamous during their breeding seasons and have sometimes been observed nesting in their wintering grounds together.

This is the least commonly seen hawk in the state of Georgia. They can only be seen in the state outside of their breeding seasons, most commonly in winter. These birds have only been seen in the far north of the state.

7. Northern Harrier

northern harrier





Life Expectancy

16 years


Rodents & small birds

This hawk has small brown patches of feathers scattered across their white bellies.

Their wings are coloured with pale grey feathers. Males of this species usually mate with one or two females during the mating seasons.

Both sexes are very aggressive and territorial and they will chase off other harriers of the same sex.

These birds are most commonly found in areas of low vegetation, usually in grasslands or wetland areas.

Northern Harriers rely mostly on their hearing when they hunt, and they usually feast on small mammals such as mice.

Northern Harries can be found in all regions of Georgia but they are only seen in the state outside of their breeding seasons.

Most of the sightings of this bird have been recorded in the northern regions of the state. They appear to be least common in the southeast of Georgia.


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