New Mexico is home to an abundance of various Hawks.
These types of hawks in New Mexico range from the Common Red-tailed hawks to the exquisite Zone-tailed hawks.
The state is also a breeding ground for three species of Falcons, accompanied by their iconic “peregrine” type dominance call.
Also, the types of hawks in New Mexico found in the Southwest are numerous accipiter representatives, including the ever-elusive Cooper’s hawk and American sparrow hawk.
With a wide array of raptors to observe, New Mexico is an excellent place to experience some of nature’s most impressive hunters when looking for classes of hawks in North America.
Let’s start our blog post on types of hawks in New Mexico.
1. Northern Harrier
The Northern Harrier, also known as the marsh hawk or harrier hawk, is first on our list of types of hawks in New Mexico. It is a species of hawk found throughout North America, including New Mexico. It is a large bird of prey with typical hawkish features: wingtips swept back like a falcon and barring along its sides.
The Northern Harrier has an uncommon hunting style, hovering high above its target and then swooping down at it from above. This gives them the advantage of catching prey hidden in tall grass or low shrubs.
In New Mexico, these raptors typically feed on frogs and small birds but take other small mammals if necessary. They can be spotted year-round in areas such as agricultural fields, wetlands, and open forests near bodies of water.
2. Red-tailed Hawk
The Red-tailed Hawk is one of the most common types of hawks in New Mexico. It is easily identifiable with its reddish-brown tail, which adults can flash as a warning sign to other birds. Red-tailed hawks typically build nests in trees such as tall pines or oaks.
These types of hawks in New Mexico migrate to more hospitable climates during the winter and return to New Mexico in early March and April. They prefer living near open fields where they can hunt small mammals and occasionally take larger prey. The Red-tailed Hawk is an important part of New Mexico’s ecosystem, serving as an important predator that helps keep populations of small animals in check.
3. Cooper’s Hawk
Cooper’s Hawks are a species of hawks found in the New Mexico area. They are relatively large birds of prey that prefer to inhabit wooded and semi-wooded areas. Because they prefer to hunt in open, forested areas, they can be seen perched on tree branches or soaring overhead as they survey their domain.
Cooper’s Hawks have adaptations suited for an arboreal lifestyle, including patterned feathers with camouflage coloration and long legs which help them stretch out while perched and intercept prey while hunting. These types of hawks in New Mexico often hunt small rodents, amphibians, reptiles, and other smaller birds. As a result, they are important parts of the ecosystems found in the New Mexico area by helping to keep smaller organisms populations under control while serving as food sources for other predators such as owls.
4. Sharp-Shinned Hawk
The Sharp-shinned Hawk is one of the most common types of hawks in New Mexico. They are small birds of prey, typically found in wooded habitats, particularly near water sources. They have dark gray upper parts and a light rufous or brownish underbelly with white streaks.
During the breeding season, their numbers are increased by migrants from other parts of the country that pass through New Mexico as they migrate south for the winter. These migratory hawks can often be seen catching small creatures such as songbirds, voles, and mice in open areas such as parks and fields. Their sharp eyesight makes them adept hunters, so they provide a valuable service to humans by helping to control these populations naturally.
5. Ferruginous Hawk
The Ferruginous Hawk is a large species found in New Mexico and parts of the western United States. It feeds mostly on small rodents and occasionally eats other birds and mammals. This hawk’s distinctive coloring includes light brownish-gray feathers along the back and neck, bright rust-colored belly feathers, and a white head contrasted against its dark eyes.
The Ferruginous Hawk is especially well adapted to New Mexico’s semi-arid climate, often nesting alongside streams or desert oases. Conservation efforts are addressing the specific threats facing this incredible species, ensuring that it remains an integral part of New Mexico’s diverse wildlife landscape.
6. Common Black Hawk
The Common Black Hawk is a species of hawk that is commonly found in the state of New Mexico. These types of hawks in New Mexico typically live in wooded areas, along rivers and creeks, and sometimes even in urban areas. They are medium-sized raptors with long wingspans and typically feed on small mammals such as mice and fish.
The Common Black Hawk can be identified by its black or dark brown wings and the bright yellow patches around its eyes. While not endangered, their population has been decreasing due to habitat destruction. As a result, conservation efforts have been put into place to help increase Common Black Hawk breeding populations in New Mexico.
7. Northern Goshawk
The Northern Goshawk is a type of hawk found in New Mexico and other parts of North America. It is a raptor and belongs to the Accipitridae family of birds. The goshawk has a dark brown head, white throat, and yellow eyes with powerful claws. Its wingspan ranges from 20–25 inches, making it one of the more recognizable types of hawks in New Mexico’s skies.
The Northern Goshawk feeds primarily on small mammals such as mice and rabbits but will also consume birds and reptiles, including snakes and lizards. They are known for their agility, high-speed flight, and intelligence, making them excellent hunters in rugged terrain or dense forests.
8. Zone-tailed Hawk
The zone-tailed hawk is an uncommon and large species of raptor found in the southwestern United States, including New Mexico. The Zone-tailed Hawk is darkly colored with whitish bars on its tail, making it quite different from other hawks in the state. They have even been seen soaring above desert wilderness and coniferous forests throughout New Mexico.
These types of hawks in New Mexico are versatile predators that can take prey, such as snakes, small mammals, lizards, and even other birds! With their signature spots and stripes coloring their glossy black wings and enormous size, these hawks are a beautiful sight to behold when spotted soaring through the skies of New Mexico.
9. Rough-legged Hawk
The Rough-legged Hawk is a large hawk found in Northern New Mexico during migration and in the winter months. They have a striking silhouette with broad wings, long tail, and white patches near their “elbows.” This species has light to dark morphs, with light morphs having more extensive white markings.
Generally found inhabiting open plains and taiga habitats, they can often be seen hovering or soaring along roadsides, searching for small mammals and birds below. During the wintertime, these hawks will stay in Northern New Mexico, looking for prey on the ground near woody stands of trees or areas with high rodent populations. They are easily spotted due to their unique size but are skilled at hiding from humans within tall grasses or weeds when not hunting.
10. Short-tailed Hawk
The Short-tailed Hawk is next on our list of types of hawks in New Mexico. It is a medium-sized raptor of the genus Buteo in the Hawk family.
It is found primarily in North and South America, from parts of Mexico south to south-central Brazil and Bolivia. Its range reaches New Mexico within the United States. The plumage of this bird varies between sexes, with males tending to have darker colors on their wings and tail than females. They are known to be vocal birds, making cackles and whistles during courtship displays and defending their territories.
They hunt by soaring up high then quickly dive down on their prey, which includes small mammals, reptiles, birds, and insects. The short-tailed hawk is a unique kin among hawks that can be spotted in New Mexico as they live mostly in tropical deciduous forests.
11. White-Tailed Hawk
The White-tailed Hawk is a small hawk found in the southwestern United States, specifically in New Mexico. This type of hawk prefers to hunt near open fields and pastures, where they hunt primarily small rodents and other types of prey like lizards or insects.
During nesting season, they prefer taller trees, especially conifers, as these provide a better view for searching for food sources. The female tends to be larger than the male, and their coloring varies from pale gray to reddish brown.
12. Gray Hawk
Gray Hawks (Asturina nitidus) is a relatively small species of hawk commonly found in New Mexico. They are known for their unassuming and curious behavior around humans, making them interesting to watch.
Gray Hawks typically inhabit open woodlands and grasslands near water sources such as streams and rivers; they are often spotted along the Rio Grande Valley. They primarily feed on rodents, lizards, insects, and other small animals but will also eat some fruit. Because of their familiarity with humans and willingness to take advantage of human-made sources for food, Gray Hawks can often be seen visiting backyard bird feeders or hovering over parks waiting for an unsuspecting prey item.
13. Red-shouldered Hawk
The red-shouldered hawk is a common type of hawk found in New Mexico. They can survive in heavily forested areas, grasslands, and wetlands, making them well-suited to the diverse habitats found across New Mexico. They are medium-sized hawks with reddish-brown feathers on their shoulders and backs and a faint barred pattern on their underbelly.
Red-shouldered hawks also have white chests and black wingtips. They feed mainly on small mammals like mice, voles, rabbits, snakes, and lizards but also hunt insects, frogs, and other small animals. The red-shouldered hawks’ ability to thrive in a wide range of habitats makes them a valuable part of the rich biodiversity found throughout New Mexico.
14. Broad-winged Hawk
Lastly, The Broad-winged Hawk is a medium-sized hawk commonly found in New Mexico. This type of hawk features a wingspan of almost four feet wide and usually ranges in size from 16-21 inches.
These types of hawks in New Mexico have marked black and white stripes on their wings and tails, with brown bodies and darker heads. They may be seen soaring high in the sky during the breeding season or perched atop posts or trees near rivers or open fields during winter. They primarily feed on small to medium-sized mammals, reptiles, and other birds. The broad-winged hawks are an important part of the environment here in New Mexico and around North America, serving as predators who help control other species’ populations.
New Mexico is home to a wide variety of hawks, with 25 species identified in the state. These majestic types of hawks in New Mexico are important top predators in their ecosystems and play an important role in helping to control prey populations. They provide us with ecological services such as pest control and pollination. The types of hawks in New Mexico vary in size and preferred habitat, but generally, hawks prefer open places to hunt for small mammals, birds, insects, and reptiles.
Therefore, habitats that support diverse wildlife also tend to support hawks. As hawk populations are declining worldwide due to habitat loss and land-use patterns changes, we must work together to protect these magnificent creatures by conserving vital habitats for them to thrive.