9 Different Species of Hawks in Missouri

It’s incredible to witness a hawk sitting on the fence post or a telephone pole that appears to be just waiting there. They will occasionally circle above your heads. As you travel on the road, this might appear as if these hawks are all over.

The fact would be that hawks aren’t really hanging out. They’re often on the lookout for meals.

In this article, we’ll focus on hawks across Missouri. By the end of this article, you must be capable of recognizing almost any hawk throughout the southern United States.

As they hunt the countryside for their prey, the empty path is best for them. You may get to observe such magnificent creatures.

The sad fact is that although they’re killing your bird companions, you may not have seen several in your garden.

Because they’re more frequent hawks throughout Missouri, you will most likely see a “red-tail.” Sometimes, you could catch sight of one of the other rare hawk species.

Throughout Missouri, we have some of the best hawk breeds.

Sharp-Shinned HawkSharp-Shinned Hawk
Broad-winged HawkBroad-winged Hawk
Rough-legged HawkRough-legged Hawk
Cooper’s HawkCooper’s Hawk
Northern HarrierNorthern Harrier
Red-shouldered HawkRed-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed HawkRed-tailed Hawk
Swainson’s HawkSwainson’s Hawk
Northern GoshawkNorthern Goshawk

Different Species of Hawks in Missouri

1. Sharp-Shinned Hawk

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Sharp-shinned hawks have tiny, long-tailed wings with square-tipped tails. They are frequently just over a kg in weight. While they are flying, their heads are small and barely noticeable.

Sharp-shinned hawk females are larger than males. Their term originates from the shape of their strongly slumped, featherless feet.

Sharp-shinned hawks swoop across deep woodlands at 60 miles per hour, surprising victims. Their flap-and-glide flight technique is exceptional.


They typically prey on small birds such as songbirds and quails. Large insects, squirrels, frogs, rodents, and snakes are also on their menu.


Sharp-shinned hawks live in the darkest levels of the woodlands and may only be seen during migrating up in the sky or even in open environments.

They make their nests atop pine trees, generally on the highest, most densely forested trees. Females hatch between 4 to 5 eggs, which develop in 30 to 32 days.

2. Broad-winged Hawk

Broad Winged Hawk

Small hawks having broad wings are usually known as broad-winged hawks. They resemble red-shouldered hawks however are brown in color.

Broad-winged hawks have medium-sized wild birds having a stocky, tight body similar to crows and geese. Snakes, frogs, newborn turtles, lizards, and other small animals make up their diet.

Adult broad-winged hawks will occasionally hunt other hawks, eagles, and great-horned owls. Other major hazards include habitat degradation, poaching, poisoning, and automobile crashes.

Their females hatch anything from one to four pale eggs with dark markings. The incubation phase lasts around 28 to 31 days. Both sexes look for their youngsters till they are capable of flying and scavenge for themselves.

3. Rough-legged Hawk

Rough-Legged Hawk

Rough-legged hawks range in size from medium to big, having broad, relatively narrow wings. Their flying path is distinct because they fly with their backs to the sky.

The feathery legs of the rough-legged hawk are shared by the ferruginous hawk. Cold weather is the ideal time to see a rough-legged hawk across Missouri.

They occasionally eat rodents, particularly voles and lemmings, as well as birds and amphibians. These hawks congregate on the northern tundra during the summertime to capture prey and raise their children.

Females lay 3 to 5 light bluish-white eggs that take around 31 days to hatch.

4. Cooper’s Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

Cooper’s hawks may be small, medium-sized birds. They indeed the appearance like crows, however, resemble sharp-shinned hawks. They possess broad, curved wings and broad shoulders.

Woodpeckers, quails, plump birds, chickens, and smaller animals are the primary prey of these hawks. They are vigilant birds that spend several hours in the canopy of a forest looking for prey. Their camouflaged plumage allows them to blend in with the nearby trees.

Cooper’s hawk prey are mostly eagles as well as other large prey birds. Herbicides are their main danger, having killed hundreds of hawks and many other opportunistic creatures.

Cooper’s hawks have only a single partner each season. They are alone, as are most hawks. They build their nests on level land in thick forests, not on mountains. Females are responsible for brooding and hatching 2 to 6 blue/bluish-white eggs. Incubation lasts around 30 to 36 days.

5. Northern Harrier

Northern Harrier

Northern harriers may be medium-sized wild birds having thin bodies, curved tails, and large wings. They possess distinct owl-like heads. They are frequently seen floating low across grasslands or marshes.


Northern harriers eat tiny birds and mammals. They could also transport larger animals such as bunnies and ducks and ultimately finish the operation of subjugating larger targets via drowning them.

Variations in weather and locales might have had an impact on their nutrition as they travel. They take a flight and forth on the grass, searching for tiny creatures to feast on. They, like owls, depend significantly on sound to locate prey.

Northern harriers prefer marshes, prairies, and wide fields to dwell. They nest in groups and camouflage their eggs mostly on grass. Females produce 2 to 4 eggs that hatch after 30 to 32 days.

6. Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered hawks can be found in suburbs, wooded wetlands, and deciduous woods. They get their name through their red wings, yet the whole of their bodies are covered in stunning white and black plumage.


Diets of red-shouldered hawks are far more varied than those of other hawks. Reptiles, rodents, rabbits, crayfish, amphibians, and other small animals are among their prey. Humans, snakes, peregrine falcons, martens, and fishers pose a threat to them.

These hawks like moist environments and are noted for flying near the ground. They build their nests in the crotches of trees.

They are generally monogamous and begin reproducing at the age of two years. Their females hatch two to five white or blue eggs. Their incubation time is around 33 days.

7. Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed hawk species are common across North America. They soar in loops in broad areas, and if you look closely, you may identify them. They, like their brother hawks, perch on fence posts and trees to keep an eye out for rabbits and other prey.

Red-tailed hawks get a dark back and a whitish abdomen with a streaking pattern. Their wings appear big and curved, similar to a goose’s. They get a unique red tail that is short and broad.


These hawks have quite a specific diet, preferring animals. Moles, ground squirrels, rabbits, tiny raccoons, mice, and voles are common prey.

Great horned owls, as well as bobcats, mostly hunt red-tailed hawks. They are not notorious for hunting domesticated animals, so don’t anticipate having seen them in your backyard.

Red-tailed hawks construct their nests on the highest structures, rock ledges, and trees. Females deposit two to three pale, brown-spotted eggs. During the wintertime, birds from the far north visit the birds who dwell in your region year-round, increasing their populations.

8. Swainson’s Hawk

Swainson's Hawk

Swainson’s hawks take their name from a British naturalist. They breed in the northern part of Missouri and may be spotted regularly throughout the summer and hotter months.

Swainson hawks possess light-colored stomachs, while their chests are generally darker, with hues ranging from reddish-brown through the gray. Males possess gray heads, while females feature brown heads. They emerge most commonly between April and September.

Rodents, rabbits, and reptiles make up their food. So if you ever see them sitting on a tree, telephone pole, or fence post, it means they’re looking for food. They also like to migrate from time to time.

Their females hatch between 2 and 3 light bluish-white eggs, which develop in around 34 to 35 days.

9. Northern Goshawk

Northern Goshawk

Northern goshawks species are huge predatory birds that appear alike red-tailed hawks. Adult goshawks have dark yellow & gray upper parts and light gray underparts. They are known as goshawks, which is a pun on “goose hawks.”

They’re hard to come by here since Missouri has more non-breeding species. To view them, you should first enter a dense forest. They reside in trees, defend their young, and eat opportunistically.


Their main sources of food include small birds, insects, animals, and carrion. Northern goshawks mate once a year, from early April and mid-June. Their eggs appear bluish-white and incubate for 28 to 38 days.


Missouri is an excellent site to see many varieties of hawks. Hawks throughout Missouri appreciate the warm weather and are typically easy to notice when driving.

You’ll be able to recognize one the next time it flies above your head. Just keep an eye out for them if they’re sticking around by your feeders, attempting to steal the birds for their food.


What is Missouri's largest hawk?

Buteo ferruginous hawks are now the biggest raptors throughout North America. As per the American Bird Conservancy, such hawks seek small animal prey across open grasslands and natural prairies.

How many hawk species are there in Missouri?

In Missouri, there are about nine different species of hawks that can be found.

Is it possible to see peregrine falcons throughout Missouri?

In the past, Peregrines lived in relatively small numbers on cliffs along Mississippi, Missouri, and Gasconade rivers.

Last Updated on March 22, 2023 by Lily Aldrin

About Lily Aldrin

I am Lily Aldrin. I attended Cornell University, where I obtained my degree to become an Ornithologist so I could pursue my love of these magnificent creatures in and out of their natural habitats.

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