Indiana Hawk Species


Indiana shows a great variety of geographical features as well as a wildly fluctuating climate, drawing a large number of birds that either migrate seasonally or stay year-round. Even though Indiana's bird populations have changed drastically since most of its marshes and forests were clear cut for farmland, several species of hawks continue to fly in the Hoosier skies.

Raptors Found in Indiana

  • Indiana is home to many families of raptors, or birds of prey. Most of them belong to the hawk family as members of the geni Accipiter and Buteo. Other birds of prey in Indiana include several kites, hawks, vultures, falcons, caracaras and osprey that all have wide wingspans and may look similar from afar or while flying overhead. Hawks are medium or large birds, and some females are large enough to be mistaken for eagles.

Hoosier Accipters

  • Members of the genus Accipiter have broad wings and long tails, and they often fly low to the ground to surprise their prey. Their typical flight pattern is to flap twice and glide. Accipiters in Indiana include the large northern goshawk, the medium-sized cooper's hawk, and the smaller sharp-skinned hawk. The cooper's hawk and sharp-skinned hawk have a brown and white feather pattern while the northern goshawk has a blue-gray back and a dark cap.

Members of the Buteo Family in Indiana

  • Compared to Accipiters, hawks of the Buteo genus are generally larger but have short, broad tails and darker feather patterns. The red-tailed, broad-winged, and swainson's hawks are medium-sized hawks that live in wooded areas in Indiana. The red-tailed, rough-legged, and ferruginous Hawks are large hawks that prefer to hunt in open areas. The red-tailed, broad-winged and ferruginous hawks having red features.

Hawks or Buzzards?

  • Like in other parts of the United States, hawks are often regarded as nuisances because of their reputation for preying upon farm animals, especially poultry. Some farmers call predatory birds "chicken hawks" regardless of their species, while others refer to them collectively as "buzzards." This can be confusing because "buzzard" also refers to other species of the genus Buteo that are not classified as hawks. Vultures, which belong to another genus entirely, are commonly called buzzards in Indiana as well.

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