12 Types of Hawks in Oregon (With Pictures)

Types of Hawks in Oregon
Photo by Beto_MdP on Pixabay

There are several types of hawks in Oregon. These include the northern harrier, red-tailed hawk, Cooper’s hawk, ferruginous hawk, and sharp-shinned hawk.

Each species has distinctive characteristics that make them recognizable in Oregon and North America. 

They all have in common their use of wingspan and powerful eyesight to hunt prey.

They also rely on their soaring ability, quick reflexes, and keen sense of protection.

All these types of hawks in Oregon play an important ecological role within their habitats by keeping small mammal populations balanced and providing food for other predators.

1. Red-tailed Hawk

Red-Tailed Hawk - Types of Hawks in Utah
by U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Northeast Region is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

The Red-tailed Hawk is starting our list of types of hawks in Oregon. It is an iconic and beautiful bird of prey that can be found in Oregon.

It is the most widespread species of hawk in North America and holds an important place in Oregon’s ecosystems. 

This large raptor has a reddish-brown tail and upper parts, brown barred wings, and a white throat patch.

Its call is a loud, high-pitched scream as it soars high above the ground tracking its prey. 

The Red-tailed Hawk feeds on small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and insects but will also take advantage of opportunities to scavenge carrion or raid nests for eggs or nestlings.

This bird breeds in open woodlands with adjacent grassy areas or agricultural lands throughout Oregon.

 It may nest on cliffs, trees in open areas, or even buildings if available perches are nearby.

As habitats continue to change in Oregon due to development and climate change, conservationists must work hard to protect these types of hawks in Oregon as they remain an integral part of our natural heritage.

2. Ferruginous Hawk

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

The Ferruginous Hawk is a large, powerful bird of prey commonly found throughout the United States, particularly in Oregon.

This hawk’s habitat ranges from deserts to grasslands, where it can hunt for small mammals and birds with keen eyesight and fast flight. 

The Ferruginous Hawk belongs to the family Accipitridae (hawks, eagles, and Old World vultures) and is considered an adaptation specialist.

Though they tend to breed in open areas with few trees, they can use almost any open habitat type when searching for food. 

These types of hawks in Oregon prefer arid uplands and grasslands where there is plenty of space for hunting and nesting.

It feeds mainly on small mammals such as rodents but also preys on reptiles, insects, birds, or carrion when available. 

In terms of physical characteristics, the Ferruginous Hawk has a dark brown body with sharp white upper breast feathers that set it apart from other hawks.

Adult types of hawks in Oregon have a reddish-chestnut coloring on their thighs that gives the hawk its name: ferruginous, meaning ‘like iron’ in Latin. 

These distinctive markings allow Ferruginous Hawks to be easily identified in flight since other hawks display uniform plumage colors.

The wingspan varies between 55-76 inches depending on the sex; males typically have bigger wingspans than females. 

Oregon is home to many species of raptors, including Bald Eagles, Red-tailed Hawks, and Northern Harriers, among which many Ferruginous Hawks Of varying sizes year-round in eastern Oregon’s high desert passes like Antelope Pass near Lakeview or Lost River Pass near Bend. 

The Hawkes are often seen leisurely soaring around against strong thermals due to their large size, allowing them great aerodynamic stability perfect for surveying foothills below from a higher altitude than other raptors in Oregon’s lake water marshes and dry grass prairie habitats.

Breeding season spawns from mid-March through early July, bringing forth male aggression towards predators entering territories protecting mating female partners until laying eggs at nests built two weeks prior.

3. Swanson’s Hawk

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

Swainson’s Hawk is also on our list of impressive types of hawks in Oregon.

This hawk is known for its distinct coloring, silent flight, and annual migration from northern Canada to Argentina.

These traits have made the Swainson’s Hawk a coveted sight among bird watchers and naturalists alike. 

But what other interesting facts about this species should one know? Here are two paragraphs on Swainson’s Hawk as a type of hawk in Oregon. 

The Swainson’s Hawk has adapted perfectly to Oregon’s diverse climate and terrain.

During the Spring and Summer months, this species moves from the Willamette Valley to Douglas Firs near Mount Hood or further north in search of food sources before returning south for the Winter. 

They prefer wooded areas with open meadows for hunting prey like small rodents and insects, which helps them prepare for their long Autumn migration.

Swainson’s Hawks are also well-known among birdwatchers because of their relationship with Cooper’s Hawks, another species native to Oregon. 

These hawks engage in ‘mobbing’ behavior during the breeding season when they join forces to defend a territory against outsiders while allowing ample room for each species to breed separately within that area.

With their stealthy movements and iconic cresting, it is no wonder why these types of hawks in Oregon have captivated people everywhere, including those in their home state of Oregon.

4. Northern Harrier

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

The Northern Harrier is a majestic hawk native to Oregon and surrounding areas.

In winter, they can be seen as far south as southern California, north as Canada, and east as the Great Plains. 

It is a member of the genus Circus of Harriers, characterized by its long wings, broad tips, thin body, and bent wings.

This elegant bird has a white head with black necklace-like markings around its neck and chest that stands out against its slate gray black and white underside. Its tail is long, rounded at the end, and striped black-and-white. 

The Northern Harrier primarily feeds off small rodents such as mice or voles but occasionally hunts amphibians such as reptiles or birds.

Its strong talons and wickedly acute vision capabilities make it an excellent hunter in almost any habitat, including Open fields, wetlands, and marshlands, as well as longer grasses near woodland edges, making it one of the most commonly seen types of hawks in Oregon.

4. Rough-legged Hawk

Rough-legged Hawk - Types of Hawks in Pennsylvania
by Jon David Nelson is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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

This large species of raptor can be identified by its grayish-brown upper parts, pale underside, and conspicuous white patches on the tail’s proximal portion.

It can reach lengths of 23 inches (58 cm), including a wingspan of four feet (1.2 m). 

Rough-legged Hawks are opportunistic hunters in open fields, grasslands, wetlands, and tundra habitats during migration and non-migratory periods.

During fall and winter, they may also be found hunting along sea coastlines to rivers or streams. 

In Oregon, Rough-legged Hawks are typically seen gathering during the winter months around agricultural fields or along waterways searching for prey, including small mammals such as voles, shrews, and mice.

They tend to make their nests close to other raptors, such as Red-tailed Hawks or Northern Harriers, creating what some call “a communal nesting area,” which helps protect them from potential predators. 

In addition to larger birds of prey like hawks, owls, and eagles, it is not unusual to see Rough-legged Hawks perching with smaller birds like sparrows or blackbirds.

During migration, they are most likely spotted flying northward in high-elevation areas over terrain with abundant suitable nesting sites and an adequate food supply.

As spring approaches, they head southward, often much farther than just back to their breeding grounds in Alaska or northern Canada.

They take off quickly once again right after laying their eggs into nests perched on rocks or stumps near their shorelines surrounding large bodies of water near tundra habitats. 

Due to their aggressive behavior while hunting, Rough-legged Hawks have become well adapted to catching fish from midair; however, it must be noted that this species relies more heavily on small rodents than any other food source when inhabiting terrestrial habitats, especially during rainy seasons when rodents may become less available for them to capture as prey items go into hiding due making them difficult quarry for even this experienced hunter!

6. Zone-tailed Hawk

Zone-tailed Hawk - Types of Hawks in Utah
by ALAN SCHMIERER is licensed under CC CC0 1.0

The Zone-tailed Hawk is a beautiful species of bird found in Oregon. With its distinctive coloring and eye-catching silhouette, the Zone-tailed Hawk is hard to miss when it soars above.

The Zone-tailed Hawk is an impressively large tree hawk with yellow eyes and feathered legs.

Its body size can range from 18 to 24 inches long, with a wingspan of 37 to 43 inches wide. Adult types of hawks in Oregon feature light brown backs and black and gray underparts. 

The tail of this type of hawk has several white banding patterns, hence their name, “Zone-tailed” Hawks.

This bird species is also known for its loud shrill calls during mating or courtship rituals or when they feel threatened by predators. 

Regarding habitat, Zone-tail Hawks typically prefer the coniferous forests in mountainous areas such as Oregon since they offer stability, food sources, shelter, and plenty of perches for hunting from above using surprise tactics.

They will also inhabit grasslands, swamps, and even some desert environments as long as there is ample prey and plenty of tall trees for roosting purposes. 

Regarding diet, Zone-tailed Hawks mostly feast on small mammals like voles, squirrels, rabbits, and lizards.

Still, they have also been known to feed on insects and other birds like pigeons, pigeons, or jays if these animals are more readily available.

Their powerful talons help them catch their prey midair or grab them off the ground with ease, depending on which one allows them to fill up quickly due to unpredictable seasonality or weather changes that may affect food availability across certain habitats within Oregon state territory

7. Cooper’s Hawks

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

Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) is a species of hawk seen in Oregon and across North America.

These types of hawks in Oregon have slate-gray upperparts, a pale brown underside with horizontal streaks of black, and a long tail with three distinct bands. 

Cooper’s Hawks are solitary and stealthy hunters notorious for their ability to nest close to residential areas.

They often perch on power lines or hunt from the air, soaring high above open fields, looking for prey. 

Though their natural diet consists mostly of small birds, mammals, and insects, they also thrive by scavenging feeders at birdhouses or hunting in backyard habitats that provide suitable cover.

Practicing responsible land stewardship is one of the best ways to encourage these beautiful types of hawks in Oregon for generations to come!

8. Broad-winged Hawk

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

The Broad-winged Hawk is one of the many types of hawks in Oregon.

These hawks are unique, beautiful raptors native to North America and found throughout Oregon.

The Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo plagiatus) is an incredibly beautiful species of hawk found throughout Oregon.

The males and females have distinct plumage, with the male tending towards a light brown upper body with black wingtips and streaking.

In contrast, the female usually has a bolder pattern on her back and wings with buffy underparts that can help distinguish her from other birds.

They generally nest high up in trees or atop cliffs near large open spaces such as grasslands, fields, pastures, or other areas with plenty of their preferred prey (small mammals, reptiles, and insects). 

Broad-winged Hawks typically feed by hovering above their terrain before quickly striking their prey on foot or talons.

Though they prefer to hunt alone, they will sometimes form small flocks when migrating to share resources during long journeys. 

During migration, they tend to fly along mountain ridges to take advantage of rising thermals created by the sun’s heat over higher elevations, reducing the energy needed for flight.

It is unknown exactly why these types of hawks in Oregon breed mainly in the United States Northern states but continue to migrate south during Autumn months; some experts speculate it has something to do with their preference for different habitats depending on seasonality though this remains inconclusive.

9. Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk 
by Andy Morffew is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Red-shouldered Hawk is one of the most common types of hawks in Oregon.

These hawks are known for their reddish-brown coloring, striking white and red tail bands, and characteristic mewing sounds. 

They inhabit lowland forests primarily and can often be seen perched on dead snags or power-line poles as they watch for prey, such as small animals, insects, and even other birds.

Seclusion from development pressures allows these raptors to thrive in large numbers throughout the region. 

The Red-shouldered Hawk will eat just about anything, including young rodents, voles, frogs, earthworms, insects, small fish, and other small birds; however, it prefers large open fields with areas of tall grass where it will hunt small mammals like mice.

They typically build their nests high in trees but can also use abandoned crows and magpies’ nests.

Despite their abundance in the area, they are still mostly solitary creatures that spend most of their time defending a large territory away from humans and other large predators.

10. Sharp-shinned Hawk

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

Sharp-shinned hawks are one of the most recognizable types of hawks in Oregon.

This type of hawk mostly inhabits and breeds in coniferous forests throughout the state.

They hunt small rodent prey, such as mice, rats, and voles, and can be seen on hikes or during winter sightseeing outings. 

Sharp-shinned Hawks have a dark brownish color with subtle reddish undertones on their back, while their underside is mostly white with streaks of shading all through.

Their wings are comparatively short, with a wingspan of between 29 to 36 inches (74 to 90 cm).

Sharp-Shinned Hawks maintain slender bodies and tails proportional to their body and head size.

Most of their diet comprises small birds like juncos, sparrows, chickadees, and kinglets; however, they also eat rodents. 

Sharp-Shinned Hawks are solitary raptors that migrate seasonally from Canada through Texas due to pressured areas regarding food supply.

However, northern populations usually stay put year-round unless exposed to severe weather conditions.

These types of hawks in Oregon prefer mature conifer forests for nesting grounds since they provide ideal refuge for them when temperatures dip. 

After finding a mate, sharp-shinned hawks build cup-shaped nests 5 – 20ft off the ground in evergreen trees or elevated shrubs close to open fields or forest edges, allowing them easy access to food sources below.

Nests are typically re-used every season but may occasionally be relocated if necessary; Their young hatch around 30 days after laying eggs, fledge in another 4 weeks & leave the nest shortly after that before making their way towards the migration path dependent upon location; where they will spend winter months away from Oregon before returning next Spring.

In conclusion, sharp-shinned hawks are important in helping control rodent population levels in Oregonian forests.

They should be respected for their presence more often than not when confronted by the public while out & about hiking or birding, etc.

12. Northern Goshawk

Northern Goshawk
by qmnonic is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Northern Goshawk is ending our list of types of hawks in Oregon and is also available in other parts of the United States.

This magnificent bird of prey has remarkable eyesight and strength, allowing it to survive in various habitats, including woodlands and high elevations.

While its raptorial habits may seem intimidating, it’s a very friendly and loyal form of a hawk. 

The Northern Goshawk is a large but slender-bodied hawk with long rounded wings and a slate gray color in the upper parts, with white underparts with black barring on its belly.

It’s often mistaken for other types of hawks due to its size; however, its size can be identified by examining its tail feathers slightly longer than most other hawks. 

These types of hawks in Oregon use their sharp talons for hunting smaller animals like mice, birds, snakes, and even rabbits.

To locate prey, they use their exceptional eyesight to locate objects up to 200 yards away.

In addition to preying on these small animals, the Northern Goshawk feeds on insects like dragonflies, wasps, moths, bees, and grasshoppers, making them an invaluable asset in agriculture’s success by controlling pest populations.

They live in wooded areas such as pine forests, deciduous trees alongside water bodies, or high elevations above sea level, making them visible from open fields and wetlands more prevalent across Oregon.

The Northern Goshawk plays a special role within its habitat community by serving as both predator and prey to different birds or mammals living in its vicinity.

They also have been observed stalking larger birds like ducks or owls at night, proving that this species does not back down from any challenge and will hunt whatever crosses its path for sustenance when needed.

The combination of strength, courage, and fierce determination makes them a remarkable species worthy of admiration throughout Oregon.


In conclusion, Oregon is home to a wide variety of hawk species.

Some, such as the Red-Tailed Hawk, are commonly seen throughout the state.

Others, like the Northern Goshawk and Cooper’s Hawk, are more rarely spotted in many areas but still can be found in small numbers.

These types of hawks in Oregon provide an important predatory role within Oregon’s ecosystems, helping to keep rodent populations under control and providing food for other predators.

Ultimately, the presence of these types of hawks in Oregon serves as a reminder of their importance in healthy and balanced environments.

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