12 Types of Hawks in Louisiana

Types of Hawks in Louisiana
Photo by Frans van Heerden on Pexels

Hawks are diurnal birds of prey found in Louisiana and across the United States.

There are numerous types of hawks in Louisiana across the state, though some may be seen more commonly than others. 

The most common examples include the Cooper’s Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Northern Harrier, and Red-tailed Hawk.

All these types of hawks in Louisiana are year-round residents throughout much of the state.

They can offer bird watchers an excellent opportunity to observe and learn about these stunning types of hawks in Louisiana.

1. Cooper’s Hawk

Cooper's Hawk
by esellingson is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Cooper’s Hawks are first on our list of types of hawks in Louisiana. Hawks are one of the most common birds seen flying above Louisiana.

One of these is Cooper’s hawk, known for its high mobility and agility and for being a fierce predator. 

Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) is an expert hunter who can travel relatively quickly through forests with dense vegetation up to 30 miles per hour.

It has short, broad wings and long tails with rounded tips, giving it great maneuverability and allowing it to catch its prey in midair and swoop down on unsuspecting mammals or other smaller birds.

This species is also very vocal, especially during mating season when they can be heard making loud calls and ‘modeling’ calls across the sky or in open meadows. 

The Cooper’s hawk has a fascinating diet which consists mostly of small songbirds but also small mammals, amphibians, insects, and occasionally reptiles.

These hawks in Louisiana tend to hunt alone or in pairs close to where they build their nests during the spring. 

Favorite places include open fields with large trees, riparian zones adjacent to streams, ponds, and lakes, thickets near wetlands, and trees along roadways throughout Louisiana.

While not as large as some other hawks, the impressive hunting skills of this species make it a formidable objective for bird watchers in Louisiana.

However, caution should be taken when observing these raptors from afar!

2. Swanson’s Hawk

Swanson's Hawk
by sandlpics is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Swainson’s Hawk is one of the many types of hawks that can be found in the state of Louisiana.

It’s a medium-sized hawk that often nests in trees near rivers and wetlands but is also known to live in open fields, pastures, and agricultural land. 

Swainson’s Hawk is esteemed for its 33-47 inches long wingspan.

It has distinctive plumage coloration with light brown or gray upper parts and white underparts with a contrasting dark belly band.

Their diet consists mainly of small rodents and insects such as grasshoppers, beetles, or dragonflies.

Swainson’s Hawk migrates long distances – usually over 5,000km! – during their migratory season between North America and South America.

Swainson’s Hawks may pause along their flight path to feed before continuing their journey to warmer climates when conditions become too cold. 

Swainson’s Hawks are important members of Louisiana’s ecosystem for controlling insect populations and helping keep local areas healthy.

This hawk species contributes greatly to the diverse wildlife in Louisiana year-round and provides nature enthusiasts with exceptional opportunities for viewing them in action each spring migration period.

3. Rough-legged Hawk

Rough-legged Hawk
by Jon David Nelson is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The Rough-legged Hawk is a species of hawk that can be found across Louisiana’s varied terrain and climates.

The Rough-legged Hawk is a particularly impressive hunter, combining speed, agility, and strength with taking down its prey.

These types of hawks in Louisiana typically display dark splotches amongst their light brown feathers and unique white markings on each of their wings. 

The Rough-legged Hawk can reach speeds up to 40 miles per hour during dives, making them a formidable sight for any prey that gets in their way.

They can also make swift turns midair to navigate even the most challenging environments. 

In Louisiana, the Rough-legged Hawk feeds on small animals such as voles, mice, hares, and weasels.

Their powerful talons can tear through even the toughest hides to access their dinner. 

The plumage of the Rough-legged Hawk is distinctive, so it’s relatively easy for an experienced eye to find one perched atop a telephone pole or tree branch. 

Most commonly, they’re seen sporting light brown plumage highlighted by dark speckles with unique white markings fanning out along each wingtip when observed closely enough against the sky.

Juveniles tend to have predominantly brown plumage, whereas adult types of hawks in Louisiana will show many streaks of lighter colors among their feathers.

4. Northern Goshawk

Northern Goshawk 
by dobak is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Northern Goshawk, also known as Accipiter Gentilis, is a species of hawk inhabiting Louisiana’s forests in temporary and permanent residence.

This species lives throughout North America but is uncommon in any setting outside of large expanses of mature coniferous forests. 

With powerful talons and various methods for hunting prey, the Northern Goshawk stands as a spectacular predator within its habitats.

Northern Goshawks primarily hunt for small birds such as quail, grouse, and doves.

They are agile hunters who can easily pursue birds through dense vegetation or open terrain. 

The length of their wingspans allows them to fly swiftly and quietly to surprise their unsuspecting prey before diving down to capture it in mid-air.

Their excellent vision allows them to spot potential prey from far distances, giving them an advantage against most other avian predators. 

Northern Goshawks typically reside near thickly forested areas, building bulky lined nests in pines and spruce trees close to the trunks.

The composition of each nest differs slightly, but leaves are often at the core surrounded by grasses and mosses, along with rootlets holding it together and providing insulation during cold months.

Each breeding pair defends its territory aggressively against competitors by calling loudly or taking flight when disturbed – signaling caution to all opposing forces.

5. White-Tailed Hawk

White-tailed Hawk - Different Types of Hawks
by Wildreturn is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The white-tailed hawk is next on our list of types of hawks in Louisiana.

Its wide wingspan and distinctive white tail can often be seen soaring through the sky in search of prey. It primarily hunts small rodents, fish, snakes, and frogs. 

This type of hawk has an appearance that sets it apart from others in the area – they have distinctive white tails, while their heads and bodies are primarily reddish brown.

As one of the larger hawks found in Louisiana, they boast a wingspan between 4-5 feet, making them quite easy to spot when gliding through the air looking for meal options.

They prefer to nest near several trees or tall shrubs to camouflage themselves better and hide away their favorite munchies from potential predators. 

White-tailed hawks are top predators in Louisiana’s food web as part of the large buzzard family, composed of various birds, including vultures and eagles.

They perch near tree branches and wait for unsuspecting prey to get too close before swooping down on them with remarkable speed. 

Despite their formidable hunting skills, their numbers have been hindered by habitat destruction due to human land use practices such as farming or logging.

Therefore many conservation efforts have been undertaken to ensure the continued survival and protection of these majestic types of hawks in Louisiana.

6. Ferruginous Hawk

Ferruginous Hawk
by archer10 (Dennis) is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Ferruginous Hawk is a large raptor found in open habitats in the southwestern United States and California.

It’s known for its unique plumage and predatory behavior, making it one of Louisiana’s coolest hawks.  

The most striking feature of the Ferruginous Hawk is its unique plumage.

It has an overall brown body with white patches around its wings and tail, while its head is a lighter yellow-brown color.

The plumage contrast helps it blend well during hunting and soar high above its prey.

This unique pattern can be easily recognized even at great distances! 

Another amazing trait of the Ferruginous Hawk is its predatory behavior.

It hunts from perches like trees or fence posts and typically dives on its prey from 50-200 feet above ground level.

It also uses surprise ambushes to surprise small mammals or reptiles who are unsuspecting of being targeted by the hawk! 

The Ferruginous Hawk is an impressive species found in Louisiana and surrounding areas in the southwest United States.

It’s unique markings and predatory behaviors set it apart from other types of hawks, making it worth researching types of hawks in Louisiana more if you ever get a chance to spot one up close!

7. Red-tailed Hawk

The Red-tailed Hawk is a species of hawk throughout North and Central America, including Louisiana.

It is recognized for its distinctive pinkish-red tail and dark brown body coloration.

In Louisiana, these hawks can often be seen soaring in the sky or perched on a branch scoping out prey. 

A distinct feature of the Red-tailed Hawk is its long color banded tail, which fades from white to brick red at the tip.

Their facial disc surrounding their yellow eyes aids them in focusing on prey from great distances. 

This species also features a wide wingspan ranging from nearly three to almost five feet, depending on the individual’s gender and time of year.

Additionally, different subspecies are identified by their subtle differences in feathery colorings and markings. 

In Louisiana, the Red-tailed Hawk prefers semi-open landscapes such as fields, farming lands, and grasslands to hunt their small mammal prey and build nests high atop branches or shrubs surrounded by tall trees for cover.

The easiest places to spot these types of hawks in Louisiana are around roadside parks, as they are used by people passing through due to human activity near these areas, like camping or hiking trails. 

They typically hunt during the day to surprise their unsuspecting animal prey with impressive aerial dives ending with sharp talons grabbing whatever luckless animal below them happens upon just as they pounce down toward the ground below. 

The Red-tailed Hawk is a remarkable hunter that continues to fascinate people who observe it either soaring or perched quietly in its natural habitat environs across much of North America, including Louisiana’s diverse landscape that includes much naturally occurring riparian vegetation which shades its banks from warm sunlight filtering through magnificent topography below sea level located throughout Southern states like Louisiana – where nature enthusiasts can easily capture rapid flight photographs.

8. Broad-Winged Hawk

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

The Broad-winged Hawk is a type of hawk that is native to Louisiana.

With sharp eyesight and great flying skills, the Broad-winged Hawk has become important to Louisiana’s avian population.

The Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo ) can often be wheeling across the sky for small prey.

It will typically capture its prey while in flight and feed on voles, frogs, snakes, lizards, and insects.

Residing mainly along hardwood bottomlands near rivers and swamps during the breeding season, these majestic types of hawks in Louisiana migrate farther south for winter months. 

Broad-winged Hawks are medium-sized and have short wings that are broad at the base, giving them their name.

Visual identification includes a lightly mottled breast with a black throat patch, reddish tail banding, and camouflage brown streaked upper parts.

The distinctive color pattern ranges from grayish above to buffy yellow below, with darker bars visible even from afar, which helps distinguish it from other raptors in northern Louisiana, where it is found regularly.

9. Sharp-Shinned Hawk

Sharp-shinned Hawk - Types of Hawks in Pennsylvania
by wanderinggrrl is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The Sharp-shinned Hawk is a small raptor found in many areas of North America, including Louisiana.

This species has adapted well to various habitats, from temperate forests and wetlands to urban parks and suburban yards.

They are a common sight throughout the state and can often be seen soaring through the sky or perched in trees hunting for prey. 

Sharp-shinned Hawks are one of the smallest types in Louisiana and North America and typically reach lengths between 10-14 inches (25-36 cm).

Though they may seem small compared to other birds of prey, these hawks in Louisiana have extremely powerful talons which they use to catch their food, such as sparrows, juncos, and other small birds. 

In addition, they also eat insects such as grasshoppers. They inhabit many habitats ranging from wooded areas with large trees to remote country regions away from human populations.

Louisiana has some of the highest populations of these raptors among all states in the US. 

For example, these species migrate southward into Louisiana’s warmer climate during cold fronts when winter comes.

Other more temperate species stay where they’re at due to having less adaptation for harsher conditions down south than northern stretches experienced during harsh weather, posing problems regarding possible food sources.

Thus Sharp-shinned Hawks are perfectly suited for the area providing another unique wildlife opportunity to observe them living here among us bird admirers in Southern United States climates.

10. Red-tailed Hawk

The Red-tailed Hawk is a raptor found in Louisiana and throughout the United States.

It is characterized by its brownish body and distinctive red tail feathers, which give it its name.

The Red-tailed Hawk lives in wooded areas and open grasslands, where it hunts for prey such as small mammals, reptiles, insects, and birds. 

Red-tailed Hawks are made from the Buteo family of birds, with females typically larger than males.

They have dark eyes and a dark bill, with reddish-brown feathers that make up their wings and backs.

Their fiery tails make them easily recognizable; they stand out even when viewed from far away. 

In Louisiana, Red-tailed Hawks often soar through the sky alone or in pairs during migration seasons.

They will also nest in hardwood forest areas near open fields, lakes, or rivers to hunt for prey during the year’s warm months.

When threatened, they will perform loud dives close to the ground while spreading their wings and flapping vigorously before returning to their original spot in flight or on perch in trees

11. Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk
by Charles Patrick Ewing is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Red-shouldered Hawk is a type of hawk found in the gulf coast region of Louisiana.

It is easily recognized in Louisiana by its reddish-brown plumage and bold white bands on its wings.

The Red-shouldered Hawk is well adapted to hunting small mammals, lizards, insects, and other prey in its wetlands habitat.

The Red-shouldered Hawk derives its name from its distinctively colored shoulders.

Its head is dark brown with a reddish-brown cap, while the back and wings are brownish-gray. The primary feathers are barred and checkered with white. 

These patterns give the bird an attractive appearance with striping of black, gray, rusty reds, and browns across its wing beat as it soars through the sky.

This species also has bright yellow legs, yellow eyes, and light yellow below the neck, along with lighter areas on the underparts for camouflage when perched atop low trees or shrubs.

Depending on local conditions, red-shouldered Hawks nest in isolated ponds or marshy areas in Louisiana’s coastal regions between May to June each year.

They build nests out of sticks lined inside with bark strips and downy feathers, forming an impressive cup shape structure 30 to 60 inches wide by 10 to 24 inches deep.

It supports a single brood yearly unless disturbed too much by residential or industrial activities near their nesting sites. 

Their hunting prey includes small mammals such as voles, mice, squirrels, three-toed sloths, and amphibians like frogs or lizards, making up most of their diet when they are not scavenging roadkill dead carcasses or leftover food scraps from human activity sites like dumpsites or trail sides.

12. Northern Harrier

Northern Harrier 
by RS2Photography is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Northern Harrier is last on our list of types of hawks in Louisiana, and it’s an amazing sight to behold.

This majestic bird has webbed feet and long wings, allowing them to glide low over marshland and grasslands with astonishing grace and speed. 

One of the most remarkable things about Northern Harriers is their adaptability.

These types of hawks in Louisiana can live and hunt in urban areas and remote wildernesses. In Louisiana, they can be found in rural farmlands and city parks. 

When hunting, these hawks in Louisiana typically perch at a higher location before swooping down on unsuspecting prey below.

They feed on small mammals like mice, voles, rabbits, squirrels, snakes, lizards, and birds. 

Northern Harriers prefer open grassy fields for courtship behavior, such as sky dancing and gliding low while undulating their wings, almost dance-likely.

Males often circle while performing calls to attract a looking female mate from afar. 

Unlike many other species of birds living in Louisiana. Northern Harriers do not migrate south for colder climates during winter; instead, they remain year-round within very small areas across the state for feeding and mating purposes.


Louisiana is a state with a variety of different types of hawks.

Different species of hawks reside in the southeastern state, from Harris’s hawk to the red-shouldered hawk.

These types of hawks in Louisiana have distinctive adaptations to their environment and often rely on hunting small mammals to survive. 

Based on this information, it can be concluded that Louisiana provides a great habitat for hawks thanks to its many forests and wetlands, as well as open spaces such as grasslands and meadows.

The variety of prey available also ensures abundant resources for these types of hawks in Louisiana, allowing them to thrive and enabling Louisianans to appreciate them firsthand.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

10 Types of Quail in India

The quail is an amazing bird with many fascinating qualities for a bird its size. Many species roam…

13 Species of Woodpeckers in Oregon

Woodpeckers are fascinating and beautiful birds that have adapted to living in Oregon’s varied habitat. From the red-breasted…