Types Of Hawks In Ontario

Hawks are a group of birds of prey that are found across the globe, and Ontario is no exception. Ontario is home to a variety of hawks, which are divided into two categories: Buteo hawks and Accipiter hawks. Buteo hawks are larger and have broad wings, while Accipiter hawks are smaller and have slender wings. This article will explore the different types of hawks found in Ontario and their unique characteristics.

The types of Hawks in Ontario are divided into two categories based on their size and wing shape. They include Buteo hawks, Red-tailed Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk, Swainson’s Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Accipiter hawks, Cooper’s Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk and Northern Gos Hawk. All hawks have unique behaviours and characteristics, making them interesting and valuable members of the Ontario ecosystem.

Types Of Hawks In Ontario

1. Red-tailed Hawk

The Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) is a type of hawk in Ontario and one of the most widespread hawks. It can be found in a variety of habitats, including open fields, woodlands, and even urban areas. The Red-tailed Hawk is easily identified by its reddish-brown back and tail, and white underside. The wings are broad and the tail is slightly rounded.

Red-tailed Hawks are primarily diurnal birds of prey that feed on small mammals, birds, reptiles, and invertebrates. They hunt by soaring above an area, then suddenly swooping down to capture their prey. Red-tailed Hawks build large sticks nests in trees and lay 2-4 eggs each year.

Red-tailed Hawks are resident year-round in Ontario, although some may migrate south in winter. They are often seen perched on fences or utility poles or soaring overhead in search of prey. During the breeding season, they can be heard giving a characteristic “kee-yah” call.

Red-tailed Hawks are a valuable part of the Ontario ecosystem and help to keep small mammal and insect populations in check. They are also a popular species for birdwatchers, as they are relatively easy to observe and identify.

2. Rough-legged Hawk

The Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus) is a species of hawk that is found in the Northern Hemisphere. It is a large bird of prey, with males being about the size of a Red-tailed Hawk and females being about the size of a Cooper’s Hawk.

The Rough-legged Hawk can be found in Ontario from late October to late April. It is generally a solitary bird, and can often be seen soaring high in the sky, with its long, broad wings, and powerful, slow wing beats.

The Rough-legged Hawk breeds in the Northern and Arctic regions of Canada, Alaska, and northern Europe and Asia. It winters in southern Canada, the northern United States, and the northern parts of Mexico. In Ontario, the Rough-legged Hawk can often be found in open fields, meadows, and grasslands, as well as agricultural areas, where it hunts small mammals, such as voles and mice.

The Rough-legged Hawk has a white head, chest, and belly, and a dark brown back and wings. Its tail is usually a pale grey, with a dark band near the tip. The legs are feathered down, which is how it got its name.

The Rough-legged Hawk is a protected species in Ontario, and its numbers are increasing, due to conservation efforts and habitat protection. The Rough-legged Hawk is a great addition to the Ontario hawk population, and its presence is an indication of a healthy and diverse environment.

Types Of Hawks In Ontario
Types Of Hawks In Ontario

3. Broad-winged Hawk

The Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus) is a large species of hawk that can be found in Ontario, Canada. It is the smallest of the Buteo hawks, with a wingspan of up to 44 inches and a body length of up to 16 inches.

The Broad-winged Hawk is a migratory bird, travelling south for the winter each year. It typically arrives in Ontario in April and departs in late September or early October. During the summer months, it can be found in deciduous and mixed wood forests throughout the province. Unlike most other hawks, it has strong preferences for elevations ranging from sea level to 1500 feet.

The Broad-winged Hawk is dark grey above with a white chest, belly and a white band across its tail. It has reddish brown shoulders and a dark brown tail with a white band across the tip. Its call is a loud, two-note whistle, often heard during its courtship display.

The Broad-winged Hawk feeds primarily on small mammals, birds, and large insects. It will also hunt lizards, frogs, and snakes. It can be seen perched near the tops of trees or hovering over open fields and woodlands.

The Broad-winged Hawk breeds in Ontario from May to late June. Its nest is usually built near the top of a large tree or in a thicket and is constructed from sticks and lined with bark and grass. The female typically lays 2 to 4 eggs, which are incubated for 29 to 32 days. The young fledge after 30 to 35 days.

This hawk is a valuable part of Ontario’s avian population, providing an important source of natural pest control. It is also an important indicator species, providing a window into the health of the environment.

4. Cooper’s Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk is a species of hawk found in the forests of Ontario, Canada. It is a medium-sized hawk with a distinctively rounded tail and a powerful hooked beak. The adult Cooper’s Hawk has a chestnut-coloured back, with a white and greyish-brown mottled underside. The head is grey with a distinct white eyebrow.

Cooper’s Hawks are mainly woodland birds, but they can also be found in urban areas. They are often seen perched in tall trees, waiting to swoop down on their prey. They feed mainly on small birds, mammals, and reptiles, and they can be quite aggressive when hunting.

Cooper’s Hawks are monogamous and they mate for life. The male and female build an elaborate nest together and the female will lay three to five eggs in the late spring. The young hatch in about a month and are cared for by both parents. The young will leave the nest in about seven weeks.

Cooper’s Hawks are a protected species in Ontario and it is illegal to hunt them. They are also listed as a species of special concern in Canada. Despite this, their numbers have been decreasing due to habitat loss and urban development. Conservation efforts are underway to help protect this species of hawk.

5. Swainson’s Hawk

Swainson’s Hawk is a species of raptor and type of hawk in Ontario, Canada. It is a medium-sized hawk with a wingspan of up to 4 feet (1.2 meters). It is recognized by its light brown back, white belly and tail, and distinctive reddish-brown chest.

The Swainson’s Hawk is a migratory species that can be found in Ontario during the spring and summer months. It typically nests in open grasslands and agricultural fields. Swainson’s Hawks feed on small mammals, reptiles, insects, and other small prey.

In Ontario, the Swainson’s Hawk is listed as a species of Special Concern, which means that it is vulnerable to extinction due to direct and indirect human activities. The species is threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, hunting, and the use of pesticides. Conservation efforts include protecting and restoring its habitat, monitoring populations, and controlling hunting and pesticide use.

The Swainson’s Hawk is a beautiful sight to see flying through the sky. It is an important part of Ontario’s ecology and should be protected for future generations to enjoy.



Ontario is home to a variety of hawks, which can be divided into two main categories based on their size and wing shape. Buteo hawks are larger, with broad wings, and Accipiter hawks are smaller, with slender wings.

Each type of hawk in Ontario has its unique behaviours and characteristics, making them interesting and valuable members of the Ontario ecosystem. By learning more about the different types of hawks found in Ontario, we can better appreciate and protect these amazing birds.



Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *