9 Types of Hawks in Indiana (Pics)

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Hawks in Indiana can be found in nearly any kind of environment – from grasslands, to forests, to lakes, and so on. They can even be found in both urban towns as well as rural, country areas.

There are several types of hawks found in Indiana. In this article we’re going to look at each one of those species and learns some fun facts about them. Continue reading for a glimpse into Indiana’s beautiful wildlife, and see if you can spot the difference between these magnificent birds of prey.

Let’s have a look!

The 9 Different Species of Hawks in Indiana

The 9 species of hawks in Indiana are the red-tailed hawk, red-shouldered hawk, sharp-shinned hawk, cooper’s hawk, northern goshawk, broad-winged hawk, rough-legged hawk, swainson’s hawk and the northern harrier.

1. Red-tailed Hawk

Length (Height): 45 to 60 centimeters / 18 to 24 inches
Wingspan: 105 to 141 centimeters / 3 feet 5 inches to 4 foot 8 inches
Weight: 2.4 pounds

The Red-tailed Hawk is the most common species of hawk in the state of Indiana, as well as most other U.S. states. Several other species can oftentimes be misinterpreted as a red-tailed. Their coloring can vary greatly, although most adults have tell-tale red tail feathers.


2. Red-shouldered Hawk

Length (Height): 38 to 58 centimeters / 15 to 23 inches
Wingspan: 90 to 125 centimeters / 35 to 50 inches
Weight: 1.21 pounds

Red-shouldered hawks can be found near Indiana’s woody areas, in forests near rivers or lakes. Once upon a time, Red-shouldered hawks were one of the most common in North America. However, due to the clearing of forests and wildfires, the population has seen a serious decline over the last century.


3. Northern Goshawk

Photo by: Francesco Veronesi | CC 2.0

Length (Height): 46 to 61 centimeters / 18 to 24 inches
Wingspan: 89 to 105 centimeters / 35 to 41 inches
Weight: 1.4 to 2.6 pounds

Northern Goshawks are one of the trickier species to find in Indiana, as they typically stay in Indiana’s heavy forests. You will have to do some exploring to see one of them! Goshawks are shorter and bulky, typically with a matte gray head.

Their notable features are a white line on the face swooping backward, and red eyes. However juveniles (pictured here) have yellow eyes and look more similar to Cooper’s Hawks but with heavier streaking.


4. Sharp-shinned Hawk

Photo by: Dennis Murphy | CC 2.0

Length (Height): 24 to 27 centimeters / 9.4 to 13.4 inches
Wingspan: 53 to 56 centimeters / 16.9 to 22.1 inches
Weight: 0.25 pounds

Male sharp-shinned hawks are the smallest hawks in the United States and Canada. They possess a long tail with short, rounded wings – making them stand out from the rest of the hawk family! Be sure to look up at the bright blue Indiana sky during migration season, because sharp shinned hawks can be seen soaring in packs!


5. Broad Winged Hawk

Length (Height): 32 to 44 centimeters / 13 to 17 inches
Wingspan: 100 centimeters / 39 inches
Weight: 1 pound

Indiana is the perfect place for broad winged hawks to breed, so you can most likely find them during mating season. As the seasons change, you may see them migrating south towards Florida!

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Broad winged hawks are similar in size to the Red-shouldered hawk mentioned above. Unlike most hawk species where the female is often significantly larger than the male, broad winged hawks run similar in size for both males and females!


6. Swainson’s Hawk

Length (Height): 117 to 137 centimeters / 46 to 54 inches
Wingspan: 48 inches
Weight: 1.8 pounds

Swainson’s are known for having particularly long wingspans and pointed wings. Swainson’s are more social birds, and typically are found traveling with others! You may see them feasting on Indiana’s insect population – especially grasshoppers!


7. Rough-legged Hawk

Photo by: DickDaniels | CC 3.0

Length (Height): 47 to 52 centimeters / 18.5 to 20.5 inches
Wingspan: 132 to 138 centimeters / 52 to 54.3 inches
Weight: 1.58 to 3.1 pounds

Rough-legged hawks breed in the arctic and eventually migrate to prairie and grasslands such as Indiana! You may see them perching on fence posts or utility lines in cities. Named for the shaggy feathers they have on their legs.


8. Northern Harrier

image: Renee Grayson | Flickr | CC 2.0

Scientific nameCircus hudsonius
Length: 18.1-19.7 in
Weight: 10.6-26.5 oz
Wingspan: 40.2-46.5 in

The Northern Harrier is the only harrier variety of hawks indigenous to North America. Its breeding grounds range as far north as Canada, but it winters in more southern climates, including Indiana. They like living and hunting in fields and marshes.

Like owls, Northern Harriers rely on their hearing as well as their vision to hunt, and they sometimes subdue their larger prey by drowning them. Males can have up to five female partners at once, although it’s more common for them to have just one or two.

Fun fact:

Northern Harriers are the most owl-like hawks in Indiana and North America. They rely heavily on their acute hearing as well as their excellent vision to hunt for prey


9. Cooper’s Hawk

Scientific name: Accipiter striatus
Length:  Male -14.6-15.3 inches, Female- 16.5-17.7 inches
Weight: Male- 7.8-14.5 oz , Female- 11.6-24.0 oz
Wingspan: Male-  24.4-35.4 in, Female- 29.5-35.4 inches

Cooper’s Hawk is a permanent resident of Indiana. The trees and food available in more populated areas make suburbs and cities more appealing to these usually shy hawks.

The Cooper’s Hawk is very similar in color and appearance to the Sharp-shinned Hawk but is larger. The majority of their diet is made up of other birds, and they have a habit of setting up residence near areas with backyard bird feeders.


Information about these birds was sourced from allaboutbirds.org.


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