Rosamond Gifford Zoo

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Harris Hawk

Parabuteo unicinctus

Harris hawks are unusual birds of prey because they are social. They form complex social hierarchies and are often seen together in small family groups in their native range, the Southwestern US, Mexico and South America. Harris hawks engage in cooperative hunting, breeding and protection.

Range & Habitat

Harris hawks live in open, dry country, containing mesquite, saguaro, and organ pipe cactus. They are also found in canyons, chaparrals, and scrub lands through much of the Southwestern U.S. and Northwestern South America.

Conservation Status: Least Concern

This species is seeing populations decline due to habitat loss from urbanization and oil/gas development, poisoning, vehicle collisions, electrocutions by power lines and killing by humans. In 1979, the Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group began to reintroduce them. They are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Diet

In the Wild: Hares, rabbits, ground squirrels, quail, reptiles, wood rats, kangaroo rats, woodpeckers, snakes, pigeons, carrion.

At the Zoo: Chicken, rats, mice and quail.

 

 

Life Span

In the Wild: 10 to 12 years
In Human Care: 20 to 25 years


Fun Facts about the Harris Hawk

    Harris hawks have a unique behavior called “back stacking” -they will stand on top of each other when perching spots are limited.

    Harris hawks are popular in the sport of falconry because of their group hunting style.

    These hawks are very social and live and hunt in social groups.  This unusual behavior has earned them the nickname “Wolves of the Sky.”

 

 

Sources

Arizona-Sonoma Desert Museum. (2008). Animal Fact Sheet: Harris Hawk. Retrieved January 14, 2021, from https://www.desertmuseum.org/kids/oz/long-fact-sheets/Harris%20Hawk.php

Cornell Lab of Ornithology. (2021, January 15). Harris's Hawk Life History. Retrieved January 14, 2021, from https://www.allabout birds.org/guide/Harriss_Hawk/lifehistory

Kaufman, K. (n.d.). Harris's Hawk. Retrieved January 14, 2021, from https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/harriss-hawk

Oregon Zoo (Ed.). (n.d.). Harris hawk. Retrieved January 14, 2021, from https://www.oregonzoo.org/discover/animals/harris-hawk

The Peregrine Fund (Ed.). (n.d.). Harris's Hawk. Retrieved January 14, 2021, from https://peregrinefund.org/explore-raptors-species/hawks/harriss-hawk

 

 

 

Updated March 25, 2021
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