|Conservation status||Probably no more than about 50 pairs nest north of Mexico; vulnerable to loss of lowland stream forest habitat. Still fairly common and widespread in tropics.|
|Family||Hawks and Eagles|
|Habitat||Wooded lowland streams. In United States, breeds only in tall trees along or near permanent streams, especially in cottonwoods, with areas of dense brush (such as mesquite) nearby. In the tropics much more widespread, found in any kind of brushy or semi-open habitat.|
Surprisingly agile in flight, able to fly rapidly among tree limbs and dense brush, using its talons to pick off lizards or birds from the branches. May watch for prey from a perch, or may circle low over clearings or through the woods.
Usually 2-3. Pale bluish-white, fading to white, sometimes with a few brown spots. Incubation is mostly or entirely by female, about 32 days. Young: Apparently both parents bring food for young birds. Young may leave nest at about 6 weeks, but may return to nest for resting or sleeping for some time thereafter.
Apparently both parents bring food for young birds. Young may leave nest at about 6 weeks, but may return to nest for resting or sleeping for some time thereafter.
Mostly lizards and birds. In Arizona, feeds heavily on spiny lizards (genus Sceloporus) that climb in trees; also other lizards, various small and medium-sized birds, snakes, mice, wood rats, small rabbits, ground squirrels, large insects. Diet in tropics not well known but apparently similar.
In courtship, pairs circle high in air, calling. Male may climb high, dive steeply, then repeat, in impressive aerial display. At times both members of pair may fly high and then dive. Adults have loud whistling call, somewhat like cry of Peacock, given near nest. Nest: In Arizona, nest site is in tall tree, usually in cottonwood but sometimes in sycamore, oak, or other species. Site is usually well hidden near top of tree, 40-60' up, to over 100' at times. Nest is a small platform of sticks, including green leafy twigs, lined with leaves.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Mostly withdraws from Arizona in winter, but probably travels only a short distance south into Mexico; a few may linger near the border. In southern Texas, perhaps more frequent in winter than in summer.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsA clear whistle, who-fleeer.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Gray Hawk
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Climate threats facing the Gray Hawk
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.