18 Types of Hawks in Texas

types of hawks in texas
Photo by Ursula Castillo

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

From the large and majestic Red-tailed Hawk to the smaller and more discreet Cooper’s Hawk, Texas is a great place to spot these incredible birds of prey in action. 

In our blog post, we’ll look at different types of hawks in Texas, and you might be lucky enough to see them while bird-watching in the Lone Star State.

Read on to learn more about the amazing types of hawks in Texas!

1. Red-tailed Hawk

The Red-tailed Hawk is first on our list of types of hawks in Texas. It is among the most commonly seen hawks in Texas and the United States. The iconic bird can be found throughout the state, usually perched atop a tall tree or telephone pole, keeping a sharp eye out for prey. 

These types of hawks in Texas have distinctive reddish-brown tails, making them easy to identify even from a distance. It has a wide wingspan that can reach up to four feet long, and its feathers are shades of brown. Red-tailed Hawks feed mainly on small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and birds. 

2. Ferruginous Hawk

The Ferruginous Hawk is one of the largest types of hawks in Texas in North America, measuring up to 27 inches long with a wingspan of up to 55 inches. It is easily recognized by its distinct rust-colored feathers and large head. These hawks in Texas live in open grasslands or deserts and hunt mostly small mammals such as rodents, rabbits, and lizards. They also sometimes hunt birds and insects.

3. Red-shouldered Hawk

The Red-shouldered Hawk is one of the most common types of hawks in Texas. It has a reddish breast, shoulders, tail, and a black and white striped back. 

It typically hunts from an open perch and eats rodents, amphibians, reptiles, and small birds. Its call is a loud “kee-yah” that sounds like two pieces of metal taped together. 

Red-shouldered Hawks are more active during the day than other hawks, which makes them easier to spot while they hunt. They typically build nests in large trees near rivers or wetlands and have been known to return to the same nest for several years.

4. Northern Harrier

The Northern Harrier is a medium-sized hawk found in Texas, typically between 18-20 inches long, with a wingspan of nearly 4 feet. Its colors range from white and gray to buffy and brown, and it has a distinctive white rump. It prefers to hunt in open fields, often flying low over the grassland in pursuit of small animals. 

These types of hawks in Texas are mainly found during winter when they migrate south from northern parts of the United States and Canada. They can also be found in agricultural and grassy habitats, including pastures, meadows, marshes, and even fields around airports.

5. The Cooper’s Hawk

The Cooper’s Hawk is a large species of hawk native to Texas. Its medium-sized body, long tail, and distinctive red cap on its head characterize it. It prefers open woodlands, forests, and shrubby habitats and can often be found perched on high branches or soaring above the landscape. 

These types of hawks in Texas feed mainly on small mammals but also eat small birds and reptiles. They are powerful hunters, able to take down animals much larger than themselves. In addition to hunting for food, Cooper’s Hawks are highly intelligent birds and often use their cunning to capture unsuspecting prey. Cooper’s Hawk is a formidable sight in the sky with its wide wingspan and swift flying speed.

6. Swainson’s Hawk

Swainson’s Hawk is a large bird of prey native to Texas and the surrounding areas. It is named after William Swainson, an English ornithologist, and naturalist who first identified it. The hawk is also called the Grasshopper Hawk or Locust Hawk, as it hunts and eats grasshoppers. 

The types of hawks in Texas are gray-brown in color and have two distinct white bars on their wings and a white patch on their chest. Its long wingspan allows it to soar high and spot prey from a distance. It has long, rounded wings and a short, hooked bill.

Swainson’s Hawks are known to be very agile and fast fliers. They use their speed to dive down and grab their prey. They are often found in open areas, such as grasslands or prairies, where they can easily find food. 

Swainson’s types of hawks in Texas migrate from southern Canada and the United States to Central America during the winter months. During the summer months, it can be found in the Western states of the United States, such as Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and California.

7. Sharp-shinned Hawk

The Sharp-shinned Hawk is a small but powerful bird of prey found in Texas. These types of hawks in Texas are easily identified by their small size, long and slender wings, and short tails. They typically range in size from 9 to 13 inches, with a wingspan that can range up to 24 inches wide. 

They are mostly gray in color, but they can sometimes be brown or black. Sharp-shinned Hawks hunt in open areas such as fields, meadows, and open woodlands. They feed primarily on small birds and rodents and have been known to eat reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates. Their diet also includes some plant material, particularly berries.

Sharp-shinned Hawks typically breed during the winter months in Texas, nesting in trees and shrubs. Females usually lay 3 to 4 eggs that hatch in about three weeks. The chicks are cared for by both parents until they fledge at about six weeks of age.

Although these types of hawks in Texas are not considered endangered or threatened, their populations have decreased significantly over the past few decades due to habitat loss and human development. To help conserve the species, many conservation organizations have been working to protect its habitat and encourage safe nesting sites in areas where they are present.

8. White-tailed Hawk

The white-tailed hawk is a medium-sized raptor of about 18 to 25 inches long. They are dark gray with white undersides and have bright white tails that can be seen from a distance. They also have a black facial mask and yellow legs. 

These types of hawks in Texas are known for their strong soaring abilities, which allow them to spend long amounts of time in the air. In Texas, they can typically be seen along the coast and in the South Texas Plains region. White-tailed hawks mainly feed on small mammals, insects, amphibians, reptiles, and birds. During the breeding season, they will build their nests in wooded areas.

9. Broad-winged Hawk

The Broad-winged Hawk is one of the more commonly seen hawks in Texas. It is a large, slim hawk with a wingspan of up to 48 inches and a body length of up to 18 inches. The Broad-winged Hawk has reddish-brown shoulders and back, with a distinctive white rump and yellow legs. Its head is black, and its chest is marked with white bars. This bird can be found in most of Texas’s open woodlands, fields, and agricultural areas. 

It feeds on small mammals such as rodents, snakes, lizards, and large insects during the breeding season. In the winter, it eats mainly fruits and berries, although it will still take small mammals occasionally. 

The Broad-winged Hawk’s nesting habits are similar to those of other raptors in that they use large sticks lined with grasses and leaves to construct their nests high in trees. They usually lay 2 to 3 eggs, which hatch after about 35 days. When young, they are fed by both parents until they are ready to fledge. This hawk species is a great addition to the Texas landscape and provides a wonderful opportunity for birdwatching enthusiasts!

10. Gray Hawk

The Gray Hawk (Buteo ) is one of the most common types of hawks in Texas. This species of hawk is typically seen soaring at high altitudes, often up to 2,000 feet or more. It has long wings and a long tail, giving it an unmistakable silhouette from a distance. 

The Gray Hawk is easily recognized by its gray-brown back and head, with white underneath its belly and wings. Its dark eyes and brownish-black beak are both striking features.

The Gray Hawk lives mainly in open woodlands but can also be found near scrubby areas and grasslands. They mostly hunt during the day and like to eat lizards, snakes, small rodents, insects, and large birds. They usually build their nests high up in trees or tall buildings, where they stay until they are young and ready to fledge.

While the Gray Hawk is fairly common in Texas, it’s a vulnerable species due to habitat destruction. If you’re lucky enough to spot one of these magnificent types of hawks in Texas in the wild, consider yourself lucky!

11. Zone-tailed Hawk

The Zone-tailed Hawk is a medium-sized hawk in Texas’s open and semi-open areas. They have broad, rounded wings and long tails with dark brown, white, and gray stripes. This species has a unique behavior in that it often follows vultures and other birds of prey on their hunting trips. Like a stealth bomber, the Zone-tailed Hawk uses this strategy to surprise prey.

The most noticeable feature of the Zone-tailed Hawk is its unique tail markings, which give it its name. The tail has multiple black and white bands, creating a distinct “zone” pattern. The hawk also has grayish-brown upper parts and white underparts with faint barring.

Zone-tailed Hawks can be found in various habitats throughout Texas, from grasslands to woodlands to deserts. They are mostly seen soaring, riding thermals, and searching for food. They feed primarily on small mammals, reptiles, and birds but will also eat large insects and carrion when available.

If you’re lucky enough to spot Zone-tailed types of hawks in Texas, take the time to appreciate their beautiful coloration and unique behavior. It’s truly an amazing species!

12. Common Black Hawk

The Common Black Hawk is one of the most popular types of hawks in Texas. They have black feathers with a white spot on the back of their heads. They also have yellow eyes, legs, and a white band around their tail. They usually live in open grasslands, deserts, and mountain regions where they can find food and prey. 

Common Black Hawks typically hunt during the day but sometimes feed at night. These hawks often eat rabbits, rodents, reptiles, amphibians, fish, small birds, and insects. The Common Black Hawk is known for its distinctive call that resembles a “caw-caw” sound. These types of hawks in Texas are also known for their long-distance migrations, flying hundreds of miles between Mexico and Canada.

13. Rough-legged Hawk

The Rough-legged Hawk is a species found in Texas, typically from October to April. This medium-sized hawk has an average length of 16-24 inches and a wingspan of up to 4 feet. They have distinctive long, yellow legs, usually identified by their pale undersides and dark upper feathers. 

These types of hawks in Texas are known for their ability to soar high in the air and can be seen hunting small mammals like voles, mice, and rats. In Texas, they mainly inhabit open grasslands, marshes, and other wetland areas during winter.

14. Roadside Hawk

The Roadside Hawk is next on our list of types of hawks in Texas. It is a medium-sized hawk with a dark brown back, barred chest and belly, and yellow legs. It can often be seen perched on telephone poles or other tall structures, from which it launches to hunt for prey. 

Roadside Hawks have large eyes that help them spot small mammals or birds from afar. They eat small rodents, snakes, lizards, birds, and insects. They also have been known to eat carrion and scavenge for food. This species of hawk is highly adaptable and can be found in urban and rural areas.

15. Short-tailed Hawk

The Short-tailed Hawk is a medium-sized hawk found in the woodlands of Texas. It is often seen perching at the tops of trees for prey. This hawk is easily identified by its small size, rounded wings, and long, narrow tail. 

It has a white head and a brownish-gray back with a light-colored belly. The underside of the wings is a darker brown, while the upper side is mostly gray. 

This species feeds mainly on small mammals, such as mice and voles. They will also hunt lizards and insects, such as grasshoppers and dragonflies. During the winter, these types of hawks in Texas migrate south to warmer climates in Mexico and Central America.

The Short-tailed Hawk is an uncommon visitor to Texas but can still be found in parts of the state. It is often seen when nesting and raising their young in the spring and summer. If you can spot one of these beautiful birds, take a picture!

16. Northern Goshawk

The Northern Goshawk is one of the many types of hawks found in Texas. It is a medium-sized raptor, characterized by its long wings and tail, short neck, and dark-colored plumage. The upper parts are typically grayish-brown with light barring, while the underparts are white to pale gray. 

These types of hawks in Texas are often seen hunting over open fields, perched atop tall trees, or soaring in the sky.  In Texas, the Northern Goshawk can be found primarily in the western parts of the state. It inhabits woodlands, grasslands, and areas with scattered trees. During winter, these hawks migrate southward into Mexico or south into Central America. 

These types of hawks in Texas primarily feed on small mammals, such as rabbits and rodents, but will also eat small birds, reptiles, and insects. They hunt by surprise attacks from a perch or soaring above their prey. They are powerful predators and can take down larger prey such as grouse or pheasants. 

Northern Goshawks nest in tall trees or sometimes cliffs and lay 1-5 eggs. After hatching, the young fledge after approximately 4 weeks. The adults will defend their nests and young fiercely if they feel threatened. If you’re lucky enough to spot a Northern Goshawk in Texas, it’s sure to be an amazing sight!

17. Great Black Hawk

The Great Black Hawk is a species of hawk native to Texas and found across much of Central America and Mexico. It is a large, black-plumaged raptor with a reddish-brown head and neck. This hawk is known for its loud and distinctive call, which consists of several cackles followed by a single “kik” sound. 

The Great Black Hawk feeds on large invertebrates, small mammals, reptiles, and birds. It is an opportunistic hunter, often perching on a tree or fence to scan the area for prey before swooping to capture it. 

In Texas, the Great Black Hawk can be seen in areas such as Big Bend National Park, Corpus Christi Bay, and the Lower Rio Grande Valley. As with other hawks, the Great Black Hawk plays an important role in controlling populations of smaller animals, thereby maintaining balance in the local ecosystem.

18. Crane Hawk

Lastly, The Crane Hawk is a medium-sized bird of prey found in Texas. Its distinctive silhouette and long wingspan make it easy to spot. This hawk has a white head, neck, black back, and tail. The body is slate gray, and the wings are marked with black and white bars.

In terms of its behavior, the Crane Hawk is usually solitary, but it can also be seen in pairs or small groups. It is an opportunistic feeder that will take small mammals, reptiles, insects, and other birds. The Crane Hawk prefers open areas such as fields and savannahs for nesting. Its nest is constructed on a branch or tree, comprising sticks and leaves.

Although not considered threatened or endangered, the Crane Hawk faces challenges due to human activities such as habitat destruction, hunting, and pesticides. To ensure the continued success of this species, we must take steps to protect their habitats and reduce our environmental impact.


After examining several types of hawks in Texas, we can conclude that hawks are diverse and adaptive predators. From the smallest of sparrowhawks to the largest Ferruginous hawks, they play an important role in the food chain and ecosystem of the Lone Star State. 

Although their populations have recently been facing threats due to pesticides and habitat loss, certain conservation efforts have begun to help protect these raptors and their habitats. With its diverse landscapes and abundant prey sources, Texas is home to various types of hawks in Texas which offer insight into the importance of our ecosystems in maintaining balance for all wildlife species.

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