10 Types of Hawks in Maine

types of hawks in maine
Photo by MiniMe-70

Maine is home to a wide variety of birds, including many different types of hawks.

From the large, red-tailed hawk to the tiny American kestrel, hawks are a common sight in Maine’s skies.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the different types of hawks in Maine that you’ll find in the state. 

Learn about their size, diet, habitat, and other interesting facts about each type of hawk.

Whether you’re a bird-watching enthusiast or a wildlife photographer, this post has something for you.

We’ll cover everything from their appearance and habitat preferences to their behavior and diet.

So, let’s get started and look at the types of hawks in Maine!

1. Red-Tailed Hawk

The red-tailed hawk is one of the most common types of hawks in Maine and can be seen soaring overhead or perched atop telephone poles or trees. These birds have distinctive reddish-brown tails, pale underparts, and dark upper parts. Their wingspan can reach up to four feet, and they can spot prey from great distances. 

Red-tailed hawks are often seen hovering over open fields or meadows in search of small mammals such as voles, mice, and rabbits. They also feed on insects, reptiles, and other birds.

2. Sharp-Shinned Hawk

The Sharp-Shinned Hawk is the smallest hawk on this list of the types of hawks in Maine. This species is a migratory bird, and they are seen most commonly during migration season in late summer and early fall. The Sharp-Shinned Hawk is a small raptor with a long tail, dark wings, and a light brown back. 

Further, these hawks have very sharp eyesight and are known to hunt small birds from perches. They typically prey on songbirds and small mammals such as rodents. In the winter months, Sharp-Shinned Hawks will congregate in large numbers near bird feeders, where they take advantage of the abundance of food available.

3. Cooper’s Hawk

The Cooper’s Hawk is one of the most commonly found types of hawks in Maine. It has a dark head, back, light-colored breast and tail. This hawk typically measures 16 to 24 inches long and weighs around 12 ounces. It is known to live in open woodlands, often near rivers or other bodies of water. 

The Cooper’s Hawk preys on small birds, mice, and insects, which it catches by quickly flying through dense vegetation or trees. Its call is a high-pitched series of “kee-kee-kee” noises. It’s often seen swooping in, its wings swept back, and tail feathers spread like an airplane.

4. Northern Goshawk

The Northern Goshawk is a medium-sized hawk native to Maine. It is one of the popular types of hawks in Maine that are regularly seen in the state. The Northern Goshawk is easily identifiable: it has a gray back and white breast, a reddish cap, and a long tail. They have a strong beaks and talons that are very sharp and allow them to capture their prey quickly.

Northern Goshawks are found in forests throughout the state, and they can often be spotted perched in the treetops or flying from tree to tree. They feed mainly on small birds, rodents, and sometimes even small mammals. They can sometimes be seen chasing after their prey, using their speed and agility to catch up to their target.

The Northern Goshawk is a shy bird that usually takes flight if it is disturbed by people or other animals. Despite this, they are still an amazing sight to behold as they soar gracefully through the air. If you’re lucky enough to spot one, you’ll be rewarded with a stunning view of one of Maine’s most beautiful raptors.

5. Red-Shouldered Hawk

The Red-Shouldered Hawk is also one of the most common types of hawks in Maine. It is a medium-sized hawk, typically 16-24 inches long, with a wingspan of up to four feet. These hawks are easily recognizable by their distinctive red and brown coloring, hence their name. They have wide, rounded tail that helps them to maneuver quickly through the air.

These hawks feed on smaller animals, such as rodents, frogs, and insects. They will also hunt in open fields and meadows and often perch high up in trees while they search for food. Red-shouldered Hawks are usually seen alone, though they sometimes travel in pairs during migration season.

These types of hawks in Maine tend to inhabit wooded areas near rivers and streams. They will often nest in tall pine trees or dense shrubbery during the spring and summer. They also have been known to hunt and nest near residential areas, making them a common sight in many cities and towns.

Overall, the Red-shouldered Hawk is an impressive bird easily seen in Maine. Its unique coloration makes it easy to identify, and its presence often signals the presence of other small wildlife in the area.

6. Broad-Winged Hawk

Did you know? The Broad-Winged Hawk is one of the most beautiful types of hawks in Maine. The average size of the Broad-Winged Hawk is 17-20 inches in length, with a wingspan of 35-41 inches. It is one of the smaller species of hawk found in Maine, and it has a distinctive brown-streaked back, barred tail, white underparts, and black-tipped wings.

Its call is a loud, shrill whistle that can be heard over long distances. Broad-Winged Hawks prefer to inhabit deciduous and mixed forests with open areas, such as grasslands or fields, nearby. During the breeding season, they tend to move to higher elevations and use coniferous trees as nesting sites. They feed on various small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, insects, and other small prey items.

The Broad-Winged Hawk is a common sight in Maine during spring and summer. Although they may not be seen all year round, these amazing creatures are more likely to be seen during migration periods. You’ll be in for a treat if you’re lucky enough to spot one of these magnificent types of hawks in Maine!

7. Swainson’s Hawk

The Swainson’s Hawk (Buteo swainsoni) is one of the types of hawks in Maine that will be discussed now. It is a large, medium-sized hawk with a wingspan of up to three feet. The head and upper body are brown, while the lower body is white and heavily mottled. The tail is long and banded.

The Swainson’s Hawk is a very common breeding hawk in Maine, with its population has increased in recent years. They prefer open grasslands and agricultural areas for nesting. During the breeding season, they are often seen soaring high above their preferred habitat, looking for prey. Their diet consists mainly of small mammals and insects.

In winter, the Swainson’s Hawk migrates south, sometimes as far as Argentina, where it spends the winter months feeding on insects and other small creatures. The Swainson’s Hawk is a species of least concern, meaning that it is not currently threatened with extinction. With the continued protection of its preferred habitat, the Swainson’s Hawk population should remain stable in Maine.

8. Great Black Hawk

The Great Black Hawk is a large hawk native to the tropics of Central and South America. It’s one of the few types of hawks in Maine, though it’s usually only seen during migration season. The Great Black Hawk is a large bird with a wingspan of up to 3.3 feet and a body length of around 22 inches.

Additionally, its plumage is glossy black, with a white chin and breast. The tail is long and barred with white and gray. The Great Black Hawk is an opportunistic hunter, preying on small animals such as birds, snakes, lizards, and rodents. It also scavenges carrion and may steal prey from other raptors. It typically hunts from a perch or soars at high altitudes over open areas. 

The Great Black Hawk often nests in tall trees near water sources like rivers and lakes. It lays 1-4 eggs in a stick nest lined with leaves and feathers. The female incubates the eggs for about 28 days before they hatch. 

In Maine, the Great Black Hawk is usually seen during migration season, as it migrates south to warmer climates for the winter months. In recent years, there has been an increase in sightings of these birds in Maine during the summer months.

9. Northern Harrier

Compared to other types of hawks in Maine, the Northern Harrier is a large hawk native to the state. It has a wingspan of up to 42 inches and can reach speeds of up to 60 mph. Its coloring is mainly gray, with white on its chest and belly. 

The Northern Harrier is unique because it hunts like an owl using its extraordinary hearing to locate its prey. This hawk will also hunt by gliding and hovering over its prey before diving to capture it. Northern Harriers are often seen soaring over open fields and marshes in search of voles, mice, and other small animals. They are known to breed in Maine and can be seen during the spring and summer months.

10. Rough-Legged Hawk

The Rough-Legged Hawk is a medium-sized hawk that migrates to Maine each winter. This hawk can be identified by its dark brown wings and tail, white chest, and pale yellow legs and feet. They typically have a light facial disk with dark markings around the eyes.

Rough-Legged Hawks typically inhabit open grasslands, tundra, and farmland areas. They feed on small rodents, birds, and other small prey. During the winter, they can often be seen soaring high in the sky in search of food.

In Maine, Rough-Legged Hawks can be found in many parts of the state, including Aroostook County, Washington County, Penobscot County, and Hancock County. They are most likely seen during winter when they migrate south from their northern breeding grounds.

These types of hawks in Maine are relatively rare visitors to Maine and can be difficult to spot due to their tendency to stay at higher altitudes. If you are lucky enough to spot one of these magnificent birds, take the time to appreciate its beauty as it soars through the sky. This winds up our list of the types of hawks in Maine you should know!


Maine is a beautiful state, full of diverse wildlife and habitats. A hawk is one of the creatures you may spot while exploring the outdoors.

And yes! There are many types of hawks in Maine which we have discussed above.

These species of hawks call Maine their home: the Red-shouldered Hawk, the Red-tailed Hawk, the Rough-legged Hawk, the Broad-winged Hawk, and the Northern Goshawk.

In the blog post above, we explored each species of hawk and learned what makes them unique.

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