9 Types of Hawks in Massachusetts (With Pictures)

Types of Hawks in Massachusetts
by quadceratops is licensed under CC BY 2.0

There are different types of hawks in Massachusetts. They include Red-tailed Hawks, Cooper’s Hawks, Broad-winged Hawks, Sharp-shinned Hawks, American Kestrels, Northern Harriers, Red-shouldered Hawks, and Rough-legged Hawks.

All of these types of hawks in Massachusetts have unique characteristics that allow them to thrive in the climate in this part of the US. 

These types of hawks in Massachusetts are large predators that primarily feed on small mammals and birds.

They nest as high as possible to take advantage of the thermal updrafts for soaring and hunting for prey.

Watching these magnificent creatures is popular for many bird watchers across Massachusetts.

1. Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk 
by AcrylicArtist is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Red-tailed hawks are first on our list of types of hawks in Massachusetts.

It is the most common type of hawk found in Massachusetts and can be seen throughout all seasons.

They have a wingspan of up to 4 feet and use their powerful eyes, sharp talons, and curved beaks to hunt for small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, fish, carrion, and more. 

Red-tailed Hawks are also incredibly intelligent, which enables them to form lifelong mateships with one another and reuse old nests multiple times over the years.

They travel in family groups but do not migrate together like other birds.

2. Sharp-shinned Hawk

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

The Sharp-shinned Hawk is also on our list of types of hawks in Massachusetts. It is the most commonly found species of hawk in Massachusetts.

These types of hawks in Massachusetts have long, thin wings and short tails, which give them excellent maneuverability when they hunt. 

They can be easily identified by their reddish-brown upper parts, grayish-white bellies, and yellow eyes.

The Sharp-shinned Hawks’ primary diet comprises small birds, mice, and voles.

These hawks tend to live in the pine forests and thickets of Massachusetts, where they can find an abundance of their favored prey. 

Sharp-shinned Hawks mate for life, building nests in tall trees near wooded areas for their chicks to hatch in.

Migration typically occurs during the early fall months for this particular species of hawk.

Many flies to Central America, where winter months are warmer, and conditions are optimal for hunting.

3. Cooper’s Hawk

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

Cooper’s Hawks are one of Massachusetts’s most widely distributed types of hawks and can be found in every corner of the United States.

These beautiful birds have a wingspan that ranges from 40-50 inches and is typically seen on woodland edges, open areas, and riverside habitats. 

Cooper’s Hawks excel in hunting songbirds, taking on swift surprise attacks to capture them mid-air.

With its sharp eyesight, large talons, and incredible flying skills, it prefers eating smaller animals like thrushes and starlings.

This type of hawk has an unmistakable pattern of grey upper parts with reddish barring below, a black cap, and a white “eyebrow.”

It is an incredibly powerful species that continues to fascinate naturalists worldwide.

4. Northern Goshawk

Northern Goshawk
by qmnonic is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Northern Goshawk is a hawk native to Massachusetts that belongs to the family Accipitridae.

Found in wooded areas, it typically hunts small animals and birds. It has a wingspan of up to 22 inches and can reach speeds of up to 40 mph when in pursuit of prey. 

The head, back, and wings are gray, while the underside is white with black barring.

This species of hawk only nests once every two years, usually in trees instead of on cliffs like other raptors.

Their large size and impressive abilities require vast territories to hunt successfully; therefore, protecting their habitats is key to their continued survival.

4. Northern Harrier

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

Northern Harriers are also one of Massachusetts’s more common types of hawks.

Their most distinctive physical characteristic is a white facial stripe that distinguishes them from other raptors.

They have a diet composed mainly of small mammals, including birds and occasionally larger prey. 

These raptors typically hunt using low, slow flights at dusk and dawn or while hovering above open fields before suddenly diving toward their targets.

Northern Harriers prefer habitats with grassy meadows, marshes, and areas with scattered trees or shrubs and can be seen across most of Massachusetts throughout the year.

6. Red-shouldered Hawk

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

Red-shouldered Hawks are a species of hawks found in Massachusetts.

These large raptors are North American natives and are often found near open woodlands, wetland edges, and edges of water bodies like rivers and lakes. 

These types of hawks in Massachusetts migrate south in winter, typically from November through March.

They have been known to nest near human activity, potentially because they find benefit from the food resources humans create through agricultural activities.

Red-shouldered Hawks feed upon small mammals, snakes, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates such as insects.

7. Osprey


Ospreys, also known as sea hawks or fish hawks, are a fairly common sight in Massachusetts.

These large types of hawks in Massachusetts feed mainly on live frogs, fish, and aquatic invertebrates and can often be found fishing along the coast or in freshwater habitats. 

Characterized by their distinct brown plumage with white underwings and a white head, they typically inhabit the tall trees surrounding coastal areas.

Around 70% of Ospreys from the northeast migrate to winter habitats such as the southern coasts of the United States, Central America, and northern South America during late summer.

8. Rough-legged Hawk

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

The Rough-legged Hawk is a type of hawk found in Massachusetts.

It is found all across the state but can sometimes be more common in the colder months when they migrate south from Canada and Alaska to reach the warmer regions of New England. 

They have unusual plumage and hunt everything from insects to small mammals.

Their primary threats are habitat and human disturbance, causing them to struggle to find essential food sources.

This species of hawk is protected under Massachusetts law, making it illegal to hunt or disturb these birds during their migration.

Conservation measures such as providing important habitats for this species are key to ensuring their populations remain healthy in Massachusetts.

9. Broad-Winged Hawk

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

Broad-winged Hawks are last on our list of types of hawks in Massachusetts. It is a type of hawk found throughout Massachusetts.

They feed primarily on small vertebrates such as birds, amphibians, and insects. 

Their sounds include a loud call described as “kak-kak-kak-kak,” followed by various other sounds.

Their physical characteristics include dark brown eyes and bars or streaks on the underside of their wings. 

Broad-winged Hawks can be seen during all seasons of the year in Massachusetts, usually soaring high above fields and forests, searching for prey or seeking shelter from inclement weather.

This hawk species is widely common in the state, making it easy for birders to spot them in different habitats.


After researching various types of hawks in Massachusetts, it can be concluded that the most common species are the Red-tailed Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk, and others listed above on our list.

These types of hawks in Massachusetts inhabit various habitats throughout the state, including open areas such as fields and wetlands, forests, hills, and mountains. 

The hawks play important roles in maintaining the environment by controlling herbivore populations through predatory behavior.

Additionally, some of these types of hawks in Massachusetts have been found to migrate from one area to another during certain times of the year.

Understanding more about these remarkable birds is a crucial step for conservation efforts within Massachusetts.

Leave a Reply

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

You May Also Like

18 Types of Hawks in Texas

How many types of hawks in Texas have you seen? Texas is home to many birds, including many…

9 Types of Hawks in Iowa

Are you a budding ornithologist or just curious about the various types of hawks in Iowa? The Midwestern…

8 Types of Herons in Wisconsin

Herons are a type of freshwater wetland bird found in Wisconsin. Wisconsin’s tall, long-legged types of herons use…