13 Types of Hawks in Utah

Types of Hawks in Utah
Photo by Matthew Essman

Utah boasts several types of hawks. Utah’s most common types of hawks include the red-tailed hawk, Cooper’s hawk, Swainson’s hawk, ferruginous hawk, northern goshawk, and the sharp-shinned hawk, among others. 

Some hawks prefer wide open grasslands abundant throughout Utah or rugged mountain terrain.

Other types of hawks in Utah prefer wetlands with plenty of small rodents to eat.

All these varieties help keep the population of their preferred prey in check, allowing for a healthy environment for all species in this beautiful state.

1. Gray Hawk

Gray Hawks
by tombenson76 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Gray Hawks are first on our list of types of hawks in Utah. It is a type of hawk native to Utah and can be found throughout the state.

With striking gray plumage and white patches on each shoulder, these birds soar high above their habitats in search of food.

They feed on small mammals, reptiles, and insects and snatch short-tailed voles directly from the ground. 

Gray Hawks are most visible from March to June when they breed and remain in couples for long periods restoring their energy levels and forming strong bonds.

Due to their widespread presence across the state and diverse range of habitats, these types of hawks in Utah are an important part of Utah’s ecosystem.

2. Zone-tailed Hawk

Zone-tailed Hawk
by ALAN SCHMIERER is licensed under CC CC0 1.0

The zone-tailed hawk is also on our list of types of hawks in Utah. It is a hawks species found mainly in the desert of Utah and the southwestern United States.

It is a large raptor with a wingspan of up to 3.6 feet and a length of up to 25 inches. 

They are dark grayish-brown above and pale yellow below, with conspicuous black bars on their flight feathers.

The underside of their tail is banded with white, providing them with excellent camouflage when soaring among rocky hills or low vegetation. 

Their preferred habitat includes plateaus, deep canyons, and woodlands, where they hunt rabbits, small rodents, snakes, and lizards.

This species has seen population declines due to hunting pressures but remains relatively common in many parts of Utah.

3. Broad-Winged Hawk

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

The Broad-winged Hawk is a beloved species of hawk found in Utah’s forests and woodlands.

They are large birds of prey with wide wings, long legs, and sharp talons, enabling them to catch large and small prey. 

It’s easy to identify the Broad-winged Hawk with its distinct brown body, white bands on its underside, and certain rusty red tail spots that distinguish it from other raptors.

With their enhanced vision and strong flying abilities, these types of hawks in Utah soar through Utah’s canyons and mountainsides at incredible speeds. 

What makes the Broad-winged Hawk such a unique species is its ability to traverse long distances using powerful gusts of wind known as thermals to minimize energy expenditure.

This unique trait makes them successful hunters as they take advantage of some of Utah’s best scenery while they search for their next meal!

4. Red-shouldered Hawk

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

The Red-shouldered Hawk is a species commonly seen throughout Utah, particularly in the glens and woodlands near rivers.

This reddish-brown colored hawk has distinctive white bars on its wings and tail and red patches on its shoulders that are visible during flight. 

These types of hawks in Utah are found throughout the state in urban and rural areas, where they hunt for small mammals such as mice and rabbits, insects, reptiles, amphibians, songbirds, etc. other prey.

They usually nest on the top of large trees or in tall human structures like pylons or telephone poles.

During their breeding season, they will often be seen defending their territory with loud calls.

5. Common Black Hawk

Common Black Hawk
by Greg Schechter is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Common Black Hawk is a type of hawk found in Utah. This species of hawk typically prefers open areas such as deserts, grasslands, and mountain slopes with plenty of prey to hunt.

It has long, pointed wings and is usually black with some white on its cheeks and under the wings. They can grow up to two feet in length with broad wingspans.

The Common Black Hawk feeds mainly on small mammals, reptiles, and birds, and they like to nest in tall trees or rocky crags.

They are often seen hunting from high vantage points from which they can scan their terrain for potential prey.

6. Red-Tailed Hawk

Hawks are a common species of birds of prey throughout Utah.

The Red-tailed hawk is one of the most recognizable types in Utah and can be found in many habitats, from mountain tops to urban areas. 

It’s thought that the Red-tailed Hawk may have been a more common sight during certain times in Utah history, as its population was decimated by hunting and habitat destruction in the late 19th to early 20th centuries.

Today, however, it is a much more plentiful resident, soaring through the skies most often during late winter and spring months when it migrates from its roots in southern areas of the state to its nesting grounds up north.

Its diet includes mostly rodents, but it will also hunt for birds and other small animals and sometimes scavenge on carrion or even fruits found near its nest.

7. Northern Goshawk

Northern Goshawk
by qmnonic is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Northern Goshawk is a type of hawk found in Utah. The Northern Goshawk has a dark gray back and head, with a white stripe on its forehead. Its tail is long and has several white bands across it.

It usually ranges between 17 to 25 inches long, with a wingspan between 38 and 48 inches. 

They are quite powerful birds of prey that feed primarily on small mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians.

The Northern Goshawk can be found in open woodlands and rocky cliffs, often using tree tops for nesting sites.

These powerful predators are an important part of Utah’s avian community and play an incredible role in controlling its ecological system by maintaining balance within the food chain.

8. Ferruginous Hawk

Ferruginous Hawk
by Marie Hale is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Ferruginous Hawk is a unique type of hawk found in Utah. This raptor is the largest North American species of hawk and one of the most impressive creatures to find flying in the skies here. 

The Ferruginous Hawk has several special characteristics that make it stand out, including being heavily feathered in white and tan with rusty-red plumage on its back and wings and its size ranging from 20 to 28 inches.

This impressive bird can often be seen scavenging for food in fields, hovering over water sources, and soaring high above mountain tops.

With their spectacular presence, they easily become one of the most conspicuous types of hawks in Utah you may encounter in Utah.

9. Rough-legged Hawk

Rough-legged Hawk
by Jon David Nelson is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The Rough-legged Hawk is a large species of hawk that can be found across the United States, especially in Utah.

This hawk type has distinctive features: long wings and legs with a banded tail. 

It is one of the most successful raptors in Utah due to its insight into prey location and its wide diet range, which includes mammals as big as voles and even rabbits.

The Rough-legged Hawk also hunts in large open areas such as fields and shortgrass habitats, making it easier for them to spot prey far away.

They generally nest in trees or on cliffs near areas where they can feed easily and don’t have to go far.

10. Sharp-Shinned Hawk

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

The Sharp-shinned Hawk is a small and agile raptor, easily identified by its slate-gray back and upper wings, white face, rusty streaks on its underside, and black accents.

This hawk can be found in Utah, where it prefers open pine forests or wooded areas. 

This species finds refuge in Utah’s mountainous ranges and inhabits suburban areas that provide the rolling grasslands they need to remain airborne while searching for prey.

It will hunt mostly during the day, preying upon birds such as sparrows, small rodents, and other small mammals. 

During the breeding season, the female builds one to three nests of sticks, often near an evergreen tree.

These types of hawks in Utah nest in any habitat provided sufficient prey is selectable throughout the season since they depend on food availability and territory selection of their nesting area.

11. Northern Harrier Hawk

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

The Northern Harrier, also known as the marsh hawk, is one of the most spectacular types of hawk in Utah and can be found throughout the area.

It may be hard to identify since it prefers wetlands and grassy areas, but its beautiful pale gray supercilium is easily recognizable when spotted. 

They have a light brown mottled body with white or cream underparts, and their tail is white with dark barring.

They often hover over fields or marshes as they hunt small animals such as mice and voles, skimming close over the ground using their specially adapted camouflage wings to blend in.

Overall, this impressive bird of prey is a joy to see close-up while you explore Utah’s breathtaking outdoors!

12. Cooper’s Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk
by airboy123 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) is one of the most popular types of hawks in Utah that can be found in the state of Utah.

This medium-sized hawk species occurs in various habitats, including shallow forests, river valleys, and desert canyons.

Its diet includes mostly small birds and mammals, but it also eats reptiles and insects. 

The Cooper’s Hawk often nests in tall trees near open areas such as meadows or farmland where they can find plenty of food.

They are highly adapted to their environment with their incredibly fast flight speeds making them difficult to approach or catch.

They are a sight to behold when seen soaring into the sky with their characteristic “V” formation flying pattern.

13. Swanson’s Hawk

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

Lastly, The Swainson’s Hawk is a type of hawk commonly seen in Utah. It migrates south during the winter, spending most of its time in Central and South America, before returning to the state in spring. 

These types of hawks in Utah have long, pointed wings and striped underwings, making them easy to identify even from a distance. It can be seen foraging for food and nesting around wetlands in Utah. 

The Swainson’s Hawk mostly eats rodents, small mammals, insects, reptiles, and other small birds.

Due to its scavenging adaptations, it is often seen as an effective indicator of prey accessibility in the area, thus making them important indicators of ecological health.


In conclusion, there are various types of hawks in Utah. Utah is home to species such as Red-tailed Hawks, Cooper’s Hawks, Swainson’s Hawks, Ferruginous Hawks, and Prairie Falcons.

These types of hawks in Utah all find varied habitats throughout the state, with some staying year-round and others migrating seasonally. 

With many food sources available, from small mammals like rabbits and squirrels to birds of almost any size, these raptors have a wide selection of prey for sustenance.

Ultimately the diverse array of types of hawks in Utah makes it a great outdoor destination for anyone looking to observe America’s majestic predators in their natural environment.

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