Rosamond Gifford Zoo

The Internet connection is missing right now, but you're able to browse previously opened pages offline.

Dragon Sensory Hours: The dragons will be asleep from 2 to 4:30 p.m. daily.

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.


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.”




Arizona-Sonoma Desert Museum. (2008). Animal Fact Sheet: Harris Hawk. Retrieved January 14, 2021, from

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

Kaufman, K. (n.d.). Harris's Hawk. Retrieved January 14, 2021, from

Oregon Zoo (Ed.). (n.d.). Harris hawk. Retrieved January 14, 2021, from

The Peregrine Fund (Ed.). (n.d.). Harris's Hawk. Retrieved January 14, 2021, from




Updated June 13, 2023
Adjust cookies
Essential cookies
Session cookies,
Performance cookies
Google Analytics,
Functional cookies
Targeting cookies
We are using cookies to give you the best experience on our website.
You can find out more about which cookies we are using or switch them off in settings. Accept