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Harris's Hawk Parabuteo unicinctus


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Harris's Hawk
credit: Diliff/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Accipitridae, Hawks and Eagles view all from this family

Description ADULT Has mainly dark brown head, back, underparts, and wings, darkest on wingtips. Perched birds show rufous "shoulders" and "pants," white vent, and black and white tail. Cere and relatively long legs are yellow. JUVENILE Similar to adult, but dark elements of plumage have pale streaks and tail markings are less striking.

Dimensions Length: 18-23" (46-76 cm); Wngspn: 3' 7" (1.1 m)

Habitat Fairly common resident of desert regions of southern U.S.

Observation Tips Where you see one Harris's Hawk you are likely to see several. Often rather indifferent to people, but note that a tame, lone individual outside main range could be an escaped falconer's bird.

Range Southwest, Texas, California, Plains

Voice Utters a harsh, almost corvid-like kaar-kaar-kaar in alarm.

Similar Species Crested Caracara Caracara cheriway Falconidae (W 49-51 in) is unmistakable, with long legs, neck, wings, and tail, and large, flat-crowned head, with a massive bill. Adult's dark crown and red cere contrast with otherwise whitish neck and barred white breast. Back, underparts, and wings are dark brown, except for barred pale base to primaries, and barred, pale tail with a dark terminal band. Juvenile has pale spots on back and wings. Southern Texas and Arizona deserts only.

Discussion Well-marked and distinctive raptor. Combination of rufous wing coverts (above and below), dark body, and broad, black subterminal band on otherwise white tail make identification easy. In flight, wings are broad and rounded, while tail is relatively long. Hunts cooperatively for desert animals; has a complex social structure involving related birds. Sexes are similar.