9 Types of Hawks in Connecticut

Types of Hawks in Connecticut 

Various hawks can be found in Connecticut, depending on the time of year and region.

The most common types of hawks in  Connecticut state are Red-tailed Hawks, Broad-winged Hawks, Red-shouldered Hawks, Cooper’s Hawks, American Kestrels, and Northern Harriers. 

Other types of hawks in Connecticut may occasionally be seen in the state, such as Rough-legged Hawks and possibly others.

Since most areas have ample food, many hawks pass through during spring and fall migration when heading further north or south, pursuing prey or warmer climates.

Types of Hawks in Connecticut

1. Sharp-shinned Hawk

Sharp-shinned Hawk
by Becky Matsubara is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Sharp-shinned hawk is first on our list of types of hawks in Connecticut.

A common type of hawk in Connecticut is a small, agile predator that hunts other birds in suburban and rural settings.

They fly quickly and close to the ground with quick turns and sudden stops, allowing them to chase after their prey. 

They will also hide in vegetation that they can use as cover while hunting.

They have successfully adapted to different climates and habitats, showing great diversity across Connecticut.

The sharp-shinned hawk is especially prevalent in migration season when many seek feeding grounds throughout the state due to the ample prey available here.

2. Cooper’s Hawk

Cooper's Hawk
by Charles Patrick Ewing is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Cooper’s Hawks, a type of hawk found in Connecticut, are medium-sized birds of prey easily identified by their striking black and white markings.

They have sharp talons and beaks that help them to catch small mammals like rabbits, rodents, and an occasional grouse or squirrel. 

Cooper’s Hawks also feed on a variety of smaller birds, as well as reptiles and snakes.

They hunt during the day while perched on power lines or trees, searching for their prey.

Also, they can soar over long distances at high altitudes, barely flapping their wings due to how their wings are shaped, allowing them to take advantage of thermals to gain altitude.

3. Northern Goshawk

Northern Goshawk
by qmnonic is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Northern Goshawk is also on our list of types of hawks in Connecticut that are found in certain areas of Connecticut, specifically the northern part of the state.

This species feeds primarily on small mammals and birds, often hunting prey near its nest site.

It is primarily a solitary bird, rarely interacting with other members outside of the family unit. 

The adult types of hawks in Connecticut are typically slate gray with white underbelly feathers and barred tail feathers, which help them easily identify from other types of Connecticut.

Although they can live up to 15 years, their average lifespan is only five to seven years due to predation by larger birds and wildlife, human-caused disturbance, and other habitat loss.

In recent years there have been fewer sightings of this magnificent bird.

However, with proper protection and conservation efforts, there is still hope for their continued presence in the Connecticut landscape.

4. Osprey


Ospreys are hawks that inhabit the state of Connecticut and have been a common sight here for many generations.

They sometimes nest in man-made structures, such as nesting platforms installed by wildlife professionals or power lines, and use them as a base for their migratory travels. 

Ospreys are highly specialized birds as they eat almost exclusively live fish that they catch by diving into water from up to 10 feet.

As environmentally friendly predators, they help keep our waters clean of overpopulating fish species while providing an important food source for other animals around them.

5. Northern Harrier

Northern Harrier Hawk
by Photomatt28 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Northern Harrier is next on our list of types of hawks in Connecticut.

This raptor feeds mainly on small rodents, birds, and occasionally fish.

They are the largest migrating raptor in Connecticut and have a distinctively long tail. 

The female is larger than males, with a wingspan between 40 and 50 inches, while males are around 34-44 inches.

The Northern Harrier has an incredible adaptation ability and can be seen during winter migration and breeding seasons in Connecticut.

6. Red-tailed Hawk

The Red-Tailed Hawk is a type of hawk commonly found in Connecticut.

With a wingspan ranging from three to nearly five feet and a head plume that gives it its distinct look, it is one of the most recognizable hawks in the region.

They are adept hunters, often nesting near open grassy fields where they can spot small prey like mice or voles from the skies. 

Their distinctive call can often be heard echoing through Connecticut’s woodlands.

The Red-tailed Hawk appears on numerous state bird lists, making it an important symbol for citizens and tourists to recognize.

7. Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk
by jimthompson is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus) is next on our list of types of hawks in Connecticut and a medium-sized raptor of the family Accipitridae.

It has been spotted in Connecticut and much of the eastern United States. 

It is a common species for its range but can be challenging to spot. Its wingspan ranges from 32” to 44”, and its body length averages about 20” long.

This species prefers wooded bottomlands for nesting and perching but can be seen near bodies of water, along roadsides, or in other areas with minimal human interference.

In Connecticut specifically, the red-shouldered hawk is an important predator of the small game due to its reliance on forested areas that harbor smaller prey animals such as dragonflies, frogs, voles, and snakes.

8. Broad-winged Hawk

Broad-winged Hawk
by Allan Hopkins is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Broad-Winged Hawk is one of Connecticut’s most widespread types of hawks and can be found throughout the United States.

This species migrates great distances and can be seen throughout the state during summer and winter.

These types of hawks in Connecticut typically inhabit open woodlands and are often spotted in fields, wetland edges, orchards, and residential areas. 

Broad-winged Hawks are hawk-sized birds ranging from 15 to 17 inches long with an average wingspan of 30 to 34 inches.

Males have dark brown upper parts, while females are lighter, with pale brown streaks on their shoulders. 

These hawks feed on small, freshly caught mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and insects.

During the breeding season, they build nests lined with leaves and twigs high up in trees; these nests may be used again for several years or be abandoned for new ones.

9. Rough-legged Hawk

Rough-legged Hawk
by USFWS Mountain Prairie is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Rough-legged Hawk is one of the many types of hawks in Connecticut.

These large birds often nest on sheer cliffs and ledges, providing an easy vantage point from which they can observe their prey below.

They are unique among hawks in how they hunt by hovering in place, much like a kestrel would do. 

In addition to their impressive hunting technique, the Rough-Legged Hawks have adapted to Connecticut’s cold climate by outfitting themselves with thick feather legs and feathered feet that act as insulation against the frigid temperatures.

As such, these birds of prey make wonderful sights from winter through springtime across Connecticut.

Places to Look for Hawks in Connecticut?

Hawks can be seen across Connecticut, so keep your eyes on them.

Year-round residents of the Nutmeg State are the Red-tailed, Red-shouldered, Cooper’s, Sharp-shinned, and Northern Harrier.

Winter visitors include Rough-legged Hawks, Northern Goshawks, and the Broad-winged Hawk migration.

Keep an eye out wherever you go. I’ve discovered hawks perched on a limb, glanced up and noticed their silhouette against the open (or urban) sky, and observed them on light poles along roads.

Hawk Watching are excellent places to spot migrating raptors of various species, particularly Broad-winged Hawks.

Official Hawk Watches in Connecticut are at Quaker Ridge Hawk Watch in Greenwich, Lighthouse Point Park in New Haven, and Chestnut Hill in Litchfield.

East Shore Park in New Haven, the Bend of River Audubon Center in Southbury, and Craig Castle at Hubbard Park in Meriden are among the other locations.

The Hartford Audubon Society Station 43 Wildlife Sanctuary in South Windsor and Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison are two places to visit in eastern Connecticut.

The diversified environment of Hammonasset makes it an excellent year-round birding destination.

Northern Harriers, Red-shouldered, and Rough-legged hawks can be seen around beaches, marshes, and open fields.

You might also get a Merlin or Peregrine falcon (or a Snowy Owl). Beach viewing is best done in the fall and winter.

The greatest sites to watch Osprey are near bodies of water, whether fresh or salt.

Search for nests atop platforms, poles, and anywhere else Ospreys consider a good place to dwell.


All in all, these types of hawks in Connecticut are quite diverse and do an excellent job of keeping their environment healthy and well-maintained for years to come.

The Red-tailed Hawk is one of the most common species in the state.

Still, other preying birds like Bald Eagles, Broad-winged Hawks, Red-shouldered Hawks, North American Kestrels, Cooper’s Hawks, and even Northern Harriers are also present.

Of course, different factors such as habitats, food availability, or migratory movement can drastically change a population at any moment.

Consequently, anyone living in Connecticut should always watch out for these types of hawks in Connecticut!

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