8 Different Types of Hawks in Georgia

types of hawks in georgia
Photo by adriankirby

If you’re a bird-watching enthusiast, then you’re in luck! Georgia is home to a variety of hawks and other raptors.

From the distinctive Red-shouldered Hawk to the rare Swainson’s Hawk, there are plenty of different types of hawks in Georgia to watch when you visit the Peach State. 

This blog post will look at the types of hawks in Georgia commonly seen in the state.

From their unique characteristics to the best places to spot, you’ll be an expert on the Hawks of Georgia in no time.

Read on to learn more!

1. Short-Tailed Hawk

Short-Tailed Hawk
by btrentler is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The female short-tailed hawk is generally larger than a male, but the sexes are comparable in the field.

The short-tailed bird’s wings are relatively long for their size, but they reach the tail tip when perched and give the appearance of having an unusually short tail, hence, the crow-sized bird’s name. However, their tail length is average for the genus.

These particular types of hawks in Georgia occur in distinct light and dark morphs without intermediates.

The light morph features white, unmarked underparts and a dark blackish-brown head. The dark morph is almost entirely blackish-brown.

Short-tailed hawks breed mainly in tall, dense forests near water, but when they’re not breeding, they reside near coastal areas, forests, and forested edge

2. Red-Shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk 
by Andy Morffew is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Red-Shouldered Hawk is a medium-sized hawk with a wingspan of 36-43 inches.

It has brown upper parts, a reddish-chestnut breast and belly, and a white throat and tail.

The Red-Shouldered Hawk is found in hardwood swamps, deciduous forests, river bottoms, and other wooded areas throughout Georgia.

Moving on, it feeds mainly on small mammals such as rodents but will also take reptiles and other birds.

During the breeding season, the Red-Shouldered Hawk, the second on this list of the types of hawks in Georgia, performs elaborate courtship displays of aerial dives and chases.

The nest is usually constructed in a tall tree, often overhanging the water, and consists of sticks lined with leaves and strips of bark.

3. Ferruginous Hawk

Ferruginous Hawk
by Marie Hale is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Ferruginous Hawk is third on this list of the different types of hawks in Georgia and is a large bird of prey native to the state.

This species of hawk has an impressive wingspan of up to four feet, and its body can reach lengths of up to two feet. It has a dark brown back, pale underside, and white spots on its wings and tail. 

The Ferruginous Hawk is a powerful hunter that uses its strong talons to capture prey such as rabbits, rodents, lizards, and snakes.

The Ferruginous Hawk is typically found in open prairies and grasslands in Georgia.

It also frequents agricultural areas, river valleys, and other areas with abundant food sources.

It is most active during the day and spends time scanning for food atop trees or telephone poles. 

Moreover, its diet consists mostly of small mammals and birds but will also consume reptiles and insects.

The Ferruginous Hawk is one of the types of hawks in Georgia that is a protected species in the state.

Its population has been steadily declining due to the destruction of its habitat.

If you see one of these majestic creatures in your area, report it to your local wildlife agency so that it can continue to be monitored.

4. Broad-Winged Hawk

Broad-winged Hawk
by Moschell is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

On our list of the amazing types of hawks in Georgia are Broad-winged hawks, tiny raptors with huge heads and short straight tails.

Adults have reddish-brown heads, barred underparts, and a tail with broad black and white streaks.

This species’ juveniles are lighter brown with extensive striping on the sides of the breast and narrow bands on the tail.

This hawk usually hunts small animals from perches beneath the forest canopy.

A keen bird lover will identify the sound of the broad-winged bird: a piercing whistle on a single note.

Brasstown Bald is one of the best spots in Georgia to see broad-winged hawks since they spend so much time beneath the forest canopy.

5. Cooper’s Hawk

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

The Cooper’s Hawk is a medium-sized hawk found throughout Georgia.

Its long tail, relatively short wings, and dark coloring with pale-tipped feathers recognize it.

Cooper’s hawks are highly adapted for hunting, with a powerful grip to catch prey with their feet and beak and a sharp vision that helps them spot prey even when far away. 

The birds build nests on tall trees, laying two to five eggs at a time.

The Cooper’s Hawk, one of the large types of hawks in Georgia, hunts smaller birds, rodents, and sometimes even lizards.

They can usually be seen in open woodlands, suburban areas, and occasionally city parks.

6. Swainson’s Hawk

Swainson’s Hawk
by Becky Matsubara is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Swainson’s hawks have broad wings and short tails, making them larger than Cooper’s.

On the other hand, their winders are longer, sleeker, and normally held in a shallow V-shape when flying.

Swainson’s hawks, one of the types of hawks in Georgia, differ in appearance.

However, most have light bellies, black or reddish-brown breasts, and brown or gray upper parts. 

Their underwings have striking white linings that stand out against the blackish flight feathers.

Outside the breeding season, these birds of prey are always encountered in flocks.

Summers are spent in the wide-open regions of the American West, and Swainson’s hawks can be found in Georgia’s grasslands and sage flats.

7. Northern Goshawk

Northern Goshawk

Still, on this list of the different types of hawks in Georgia, the Northern Goshawk is a large and powerful hawk native to the state.

It has a striking appearance, with its long tail, white breast, and gray wings.

This bird of prey prefers mature forests with open areas nearby for hunting, so that it can be found in wooded areas across Georgia. 

The Northern Goshawk primarily feeds on small mammals, birds, and reptiles.

While they are not often seen during the day, they can be spotted perched atop trees in the evenings or when they are flying overhead. 

Unfortunately, the population of these impressive birds is declining due to habitat loss and other human disturbances.

If you are lucky enough to spot a Northern Goshawk in Georgia, it’s worth taking the time to appreciate its beauty!

8. Red-Tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk - Types of Hawks in Pennsylvania
by U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Northeast Region is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

Buteo proportions are characteristic of huge red-tailed hawks, with exceptionally broad, rounded wings and a short, wide tail.

They are North America’s second-largest buteo hawk species, trailing only the ferruginous hawk.

The tops of most red-tailed hawks are deep brown, with pale underparts and a striped belly. 

In adults, the tail is cinnamon-red, but in immature birds, it is brown and banded.

The dark morph birds have chocolate-brown breasts and a rusty red tail, whereas the rufous birds have a reddish-brown chest and a black belly.

Red-tailed hawks, the last on this list of the types of hawks in Georgia, will most usually be seen flying in broad circles high over a field.


Are you an avid birdwatcher? If you are, you’ll be delighted to know that Georgia is home to many Hawks!

The comprehensive guide above examined the different types of hawks in Georgia, the Peach State. 

From the Red-tailed Hawk to the Broad-winged Hawk, we provided an overview of each species so you can easily identify them on your next birding adventure.

So grab your binoculars and get ready to explore the types of hawks in Georgia

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