Florida is home to a variety of hawk species that add to the state’s rich biodiversity. Hawks are fascinating birds of prey known for their keen eyesight, powerful talons, and impressive hunting skills.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the most common types of hawks found in Florida.

1. Red-Shouldered Hawk

The Red-Shouldered Hawk is a medium-sized hawk with distinct markings. They have a reddish chest, white and black bands on their tail, and a characteristic reddish shoulder patch.

  • Scientific Name: Buteo lineatus
  • Size: 17-24 inches in length
  • Wingspan: 37-43 inches
  • Habitat: Woodlands, swamps, and near rivers
  • Diet: Small mammals, amphibians, and reptiles

2. Red-Tailed Hawk

Red-Tailed Hawks are one of the most widespread and commonly seen hawks in Florida. They are easily identified by their reddish-brown tail and broad wings.

  • Scientific Name: Buteo jamaicensis
  • Size: 18-26 inches in length
  • Wingspan: 43-52 inches
  • Habitat: Open fields, deserts, and woodlands
  • Diet: Rodents, birds, and small mammals

3. Cooper’s Hawk

Cooper’s Hawks are agile hunters, known for their ability to navigate through dense forests at high speeds. They have a bluish-gray back and a reddish-barred chest.

  • Scientific Name: Accipiter cooperii
  • Size: 14-20 inches in length
  • Wingspan: 24-35 inches
  • Habitat: Woodlands, forests, and suburban areas
  • Diet: Birds, small mammals, and insects

4. Sharp-Shinned Hawk

The Sharp-Shinned Hawk is the smallest hawk in North America. It has a slim body, short wings, and a long tail. They are often confused with Cooper’s Hawks.

  • Scientific Name: Accipiter striatus
  • Size: 9-13 inches in length
  • Wingspan: 17-23 inches
  • Habitat: Dense forests and wooded areas
  • Diet: Small birds, insects, and occasionally small mammals
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5. Broad-Winged Hawk

Broad-Winged Hawks are known for their distinctive whistling call and broad wings. They are medium-sized hawks with a reddish-brown head and barred underparts.

  • Scientific Name: Buteo platypterus
  • Size: 13-17 inches in length
  • Wingspan: 32-39 inches
  • Habitat: Deciduous forests and near bodies of water
  • Diet: Small mammals, birds, and amphibians

6. Swainson’s Hawk

Swainson’s Hawks are migratory birds that visit Florida during their migration. They have long wings and a distinctive white patch on their face.

  • Scientific Name: Buteo swainsoni
  • Size: 18-22 inches in length
  • Wingspan: 46-54 inches
  • Habitat: Grasslands, prairies, and deserts
  • Diet: Insects, small mammals, and reptiles

7. Northern Harrier

The Northern Harrier, also known as the Marsh Hawk, is unique with its owl-like face and low, gliding flight pattern. They have a white rump patch and a long tail.

  • Scientific Name: Circus hudsonius
  • Size: 18-20 inches in length
  • Wingspan: 40-47 inches
  • Habitat: Marshes, grasslands, and fields
  • Diet: Small mammals, birds, and insects


When is the best time to see hawks in Florida?

Hawks can be seen year-round in Florida, but fall and spring migrations are particularly good times for hawk watching.

What should I bring for hawk watching?

Bring binoculars, a field guide, a camera, and plenty of water. Dress in layers and wear comfortable shoes.

Are there any hawk watching events in Florida?

Yes, Florida hosts several hawk watching events and festivals, especially during migration seasons. Check local birding organizations for details.


Florida’s diverse habitats provide a home for many different species of hawks. By learning about these magnificent birds, we can appreciate their role in the ecosystem and take steps to protect them. So, next time you’re out in nature, keep an eye out for these impressive birds of prey soaring overhead.