10 Different Types of Hawks in Ohio

Different Types of Hawks in Ohio
Photo by Mathew Schwartz

Are you curious to know more about the types of hawks in Ohio? Are you wondering what types of these majestic birds live and thrive in the Buckeye State?

Well, you’ve come to the right blog post! Hawks are some of the most beautiful and impressive birds in the world.

They have keen eyesight for miles, allowing them to find their prey from hundreds of feet away. Hawks can soar through the air with grace and agility.

The wingspan of a hawk can reach as far as four-and-a-half feet – quite a sight to behold!

Unsurprisingly, there is an abundance of hawks inhabiting our state.

In Ohio alone, there are many known species of hawks — Red-tailed Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, and Broad-winged Hawk – all with distinct characteristics and behaviors that make them fascinating to observe.

This article will explore the different types of hawks in Ohio.

1. Northern Harrier

The Northern Harrier is a bird of prey found in various habitats across North America, primarily in fields and marshes. This majestic raptor has distinctive markings on its back and belly with white patches around the neck. Its most recognizable feature is its very long tail and broad wings, which it uses to soar gracefully through the air in search of prey. 

Northern Harriers, the first on this list of the types of hawks in Ohio, feed almost exclusively on small mammals such as rabbits, voles, mice, and lemmings. They use a ” quartering ” technique to fly low over the ground and scan for potential prey before quickly pouncing on them. These birds may also scavenge for carrion during colder seasons or hunt bats at night. 

The female harrier is usually larger than the male, and both sexes display remarkable aerial acrobatics when seeking food sources. Mating pairs build nests located near fields, so they have plenty of access to food sources throughout their breeding season. The female incubates up to five eggs while her mate brings her meals until they are ready to fledge after approximately 25 days of development inside their nest.

2. Harris’s Hawk

The Harris’s Hawk is an iconic bird of prey native to the southwestern United States, Mexico, and South America. This hawk species have various distinctive physical characteristics, including dark brown feathers with lighter streaks, a white throat and head, barred underparts, yellow legs, brown eyes and feet, and rounded wings. Also known as the Bay-winged Hawk or Dusky Hawk in some parts of its range, the Harris’s Hawk is popular among falconers due to its outstanding skills in cooperative hunting, which involve several birds hunting together.

Harris’s Hawks, the second on this list of the types of hawks in Ohio, are opportunistic hunters and feed on small animals such as rabbits, small birds, lizards, snakes, and insects. They tend to stay close to home when it comes to breeding grounds but may travel hundreds of miles in search of food. They are also known to prey upon larger animals than their size would suggest by mobbing them en masse, with up to seven individuals participating at once when they do so. 

In addition to being highly capable hunters on their own or acting as part of a team, Harris’s Hawks are also one of the most intelligent members of the animal kingdom among their bird cohorts. They recognize individual family members both through sight and sound using complex vocal calls and facial recognition techniques that identify mates and kin even in crowded areas.

3. Rough-Legged Hawk

The Rough-Legged Hawk is a medium-sized diurnal raptor of the Accipitridae family that can be found in various parts of the northern hemisphere. Of all the types of hawks in Ohio, it’s most recognizable due to its distinctive feathered legs, hence its name. These birds have pale-colored tails with dark bands and rust-colored wings, while their bellies are mostly white and unmarked. 

The Rough-legged Hawk goes through a yearly molt, giving it an added touch of elegance and charm compared to other species of hawks. Rough-legged Hawks breed in colder regions such as northern Canada, Alaska, Scandinavia, and Siberian Russia. They prefer open tundra habitats where they mainly hunt small rodents such as voles and lemmings from perches or soaring high above searching for prey from the air. 

During the winter months, when food is scarce, the Rough-Legged Hawk will migrate southward into open fields and agricultural land. This is where farmers often find these birds taking advantage of leftover grain crops used for feeding livestock. During their southward journey in autumn, these birds also move through many areas where people live, usually setting up roosts that bring them close enough to be seen by curious humans not accustomed to seeing such majestic birds up close.

4. Northern Goshawk

The Northern Goshawk is a medium-sized raptor found mainly in the northern parts of North America, Europe and Asia. This species of bird has grayish-brown on its wings, head, and back with a white underside and brown barring along the chest. Males typically weigh between 500-1100 grams, while females can reach 900-1400 grams. 

Northern Goshawks have large eyes that allow them to watch for potential prey while they soar through their forest home at high speeds. They are powerful predators that take advantage of the thick cover provided by forests to surprise small mammals or birds before attacking them. The diet of a Northern Goshawk consists mostly of small mammals like rats, mice, squirrels, and rabbits, as well as birds like pigeons, doves and larks. 

They are types of hawks in Ohio that will also feed on reptiles, amphibians and some invertebrates when larger prey is unavailable. This is due to competition from other predators or seasonal changes in the food supply. Although goshawks hunt at any time of the day, they are most active during twilight hours when their keen, visually guided pursuit hunting skills can give them an advantage over prey in low light conditions. 

Additionally, Northern Goshawks utilize their ability to soar very high above the treetops to search for open fields where animals might be grazing. This greatly increases the range at which they can locate meals compared to other raptors with more limited flight capabilities.

5. Red-Shouldered Hawk

The Red-Shouldered Hawk is found throughout the Eastern and Central United States. It is named for its bright red patches on its shoulders, which can be seen when in flight, and its characteristic plumage featuring brownish-red, white, and black streaking. The birds are mainly active during the day and can often be observed perched atop trees or soaring through the sky, searching for prey. 

They are also types of hawks in Ohio that typically hunt small animals such as rodents, snakes, and amphibians but may also occasionally consume small birds and insects. During the winter, they migrate to warmer climates near coasts or rivers to feed on fish and other aquatic prey sources. Red-shouldered Hawks primarily inhabit woodlands with open areas where they build twig nests lined with various fibers for their young hatchlings. 

Courtship activities between mates last up to 8 weeks, during which males display acrobatic flight patterns in attempts to woo females. Multiple pairs may sometimes share nesting sites if enough resources are available such as food supply near multiple nesting spots. These majestic birds usually breed annually, producing an average clutch size of three eggs that both parents incubate over 28 days before hatching season. 

Although these types of hawks in Ohio have predators in the form of owls and other large raptors, urbanization has helped increase their numbers due largely to increased natural shelter opportunities available around human dwellings. As a result, this makes them relatively more common compared to other species within their range across North America.

6. Swainson’s Hawks

Swainson’s Hawks (also known as large hawks, broad-winged hawks, or the marsh hawk) are large birds of prey native to North America. They are easily identifiable by their distinctive brown and white feather markings on the upper wings, chest, and back. Swainson’s Hawks, on this list of the types of hawks in Ohio, have a long tail and an average wingspan of 43 inches. 

Breeding pairs can typically be found in grasslands throughout Southwestern Canada, Central United States, Mexico, and Peru. The main food source for Swainson’s Hawks is small mammals such as voles, mice, rabbits, and gophers. They will also hunt for small insects like grasshoppers and crickets in open grassland habitats. 

During the breeding season, it is common to see multiple hawks circling together, looking for suitable ponds or marshes nearby. Looking for where there may be more available food sources or an abundance of prey animals that make ideal nesting grounds. These hawks tend to form social bonds with one another when they form longer-term partnerships, which have been observed since they were first studied in the wilds of Nebraska by William Brewster several centuries ago.

7. Red-Tailed Hawk

The Red-Tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) is a large bird of the hawk family that is common throughout much of North America. It has distinctive reddish-brown feathers on its back and is adept at soaring and gliding in search of small mammals and other prey. It can also be identified by its sharp, shrill call, which sounds like screeching or screaming. 

The Red-Tailed Hawk typically inhabits temperate open land or grassy meadows, but it can also be found in woodlands and other closed land habitats. One of the most distinctive traits of the Red-Tailed Hawk, one of the various types of hawks in Ohio, is its hunting prowess. The species hunts from perches—utilizing its sharp vision to identify prey from afar—or its powerful wings to slowly “float” and observe prey below. 

Contrary to popular belief, the Red-Tailed Hawk does not usually hunt in a flock but individually. However, multiple hawks may hunt together on certain occasions if there is plenty of food nearby for them to feast upon. When attacking prey such as rodents, rabbits, squirrels, birds, lizards, or frogs, they will dive at high speeds with their feet held out high, ready to apprehend their dinner midair.

8. Broad-Winged Hawk

The Broad-Winged Hawk is a small species of hawk residing in the United States and Central America. This hawk is one of the most widespread raptors found in North America, as it is often seen soaring above forests and even open fields. With its bright features, this bird is easily spotted due to its orange shoulders and unique rusty brown stripes on their underbellies. 

The adult Broad-Winged Hawks is one of the different types of hawks in Ohio and typically have a wingspan of about 39 inches and weigh about 10 ounces. This breed of hawk generally feeds on insects, reptiles, frogs, small mammals, birds, and berries. Additionally, they hunt from perches high up in trees or fly through the sky to spot their prey. 

Partnered with its vocal nature, this rare form of hunting makes them easily distinguishable amongst other types of hawks in Ohio. In addition to having loud calls while perched in dead trees or flying overhead during migration season, it will also do low “teeoo” dives during courtship displays partway down toward a potential mate or territory rivals. 

Along with this being a luxury experience for bird watchers and professional ornithologists alike, these visual encounters can provide cute moments too, as chick-aged broad-winged hawks will fussily cultivate comfort out of all sorts of random objects, usually consisting of twigs but sometimes visible teddy bears or tennis balls nearby urban areas they inhabit!

9. Cooper’s Hawk

Speaking of the types of hawks in Ohio, the Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) is a medium-sized North American hawk species. It is found throughout North and Central America and the Caribbean islands. This powerful hunter has a fierce reputation among its prey – birds smaller than itself – and therefore is respected and feared by them. 

Cooper’s Hawk can be identified by its hooked beak, long pointed wings that help it maneuver gracefully through its territory, and sharp eyesight to locate prey from afar. This raptor can grow up to 20 inches with a wing span of 40 inches and has heavily barred brown feathers that easily conceal it when gliding through the skies. 

These hawks are incredibly clever predators; they have an aptitude for tracking their prey by quick changes in direction. This allows these types of hawks in Ohio to snatch up birds before they know what happened swiftly! They also enjoy a varied diet, including small mammals like rodents, squirrels, rabbits, snakes and lizards. 

Unlike other birds of prey, Cooper’s Hawks prefer to hunt on the ground or in dense vegetation rather than soaring high in the sky as eagles or vultures do. This species often reuse nests other large birds make yearly instead of making their own. This is why many pieces of evidence are left behind, such as feathers or bones around old nests that may go unnoticed if you’re not looking closely enough!

10. Sharp-Shinned Hawk

Of the several types of hawks in Ohio, the Sharp-shinned Hawk is a small hawk that resides in North America. It has a white breast, dark-streaked upper parts, and short, broad wings with rounded tips. It usually has reddish-orange legs and feet, rosy facial skin with yellow markings near the eyes, and an orange beak. 

This species of hawk feeds mainly on smaller birds such as sparrows, robins, finches, or jays by stealthily approaching them from nearby hiding spots or preying upon them from a distance when they are not paying attention. They may also take small mammals such as mice or voles if an opportunity presents itself. The Sharp-shinned Hawk can usually be seen perched atop trees in wooded areas, where it waits for its prey to pass by before swooping down to catch it suddenly. 

The Sharp-shinned Hawk’s nesting habits are quite interesting: they will only use old nests made by other species of birds as their own instead of building their nests in trees very high off the ground. Because they have adapted to live amongst human populations rather than deep in forests far away from people, they are much more notorious for attacking pets and poultry that wander into their area than most other birds of prey.

So extra caution should be taken to keep pets safely confined when these hawks are spotted nearby.

They are the types of hawks in Ohio that tend to be fairly vocal during nesting season but will remain quiet at all other times of the year.


Hawks are an essential part of Ohio’s robust wildlife. Different species of hawks can be found throughout the state, ranging from the enormous and powerful Red-tailed hawks to the much smaller American Kestrel. 

With diverse habitats available in Ohio, these hawks thrive in different ecosystems, providing an important source of food for other predators.

By learning more about the types of hawks in Ohio, people can become better stewards of nature and ensure that they remain a part of this beautiful state’s environment.

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