5 Types of Hawks in New Mexico

Last Updated on March 22, 2023 by Lily Aldrin

Hawks are raptors that hunt and consume tiny animals, frogs, snakes, and birds. Since they can sense ultraviolet light, it is easier for them to find prey.

You may use this guide to identify the hawk species found in New Mexico.

Harris's HawkHarris's Hawk
Common Black HawkCommon Black Hawk
Northern HarrierNorthern Harrier
Zone-Tailed HawkZone-Tailed Hawk

Types of Hawks in New Mexico

1. Harris’s Hawk

Harris's Hawk

Harris’s Hawk groups frequently engage in complex coordinated hunting techniques.

It’s interesting to note that after a kill, individual birds begin to feed in a hierarchy based on their degree of dominance, much like a pack of wolves.

Individual birds will consume reptiles, gophers, birds, and rodents while they are not scavenging in groups.


Harris Hawks don’t move around. They remain there all year long and “own” a region.

They are most frequently seen in lowland deserts with lots of high perches, including bushes, power poles, or rocks. Being close to a reliable supply of water is essential for them since they dwell in arid settings.

2. Common Black Hawk

Common Black Hawk

Except for a little white spot behind the beak and white stripes on the tail, this hawk’s whole body is coal in color.

Their legs and beak have a vivid orange-yellow color that contrasts with their black bodies.

There are just a few locations in Tucson, Utah, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Houston where common black hawks may be found.

The majority of these raptors reside in Mexico and Central America, farther south. You share a trait with this raptor if you enjoy eating crab legs.

When available, common black hawks adore eating crabs!

They also consume insects, eggs, crayfish, fish, juvenile birds, frogs, snakes, and snake eggs.

To get their prey, they may even be seen wading into shallow water.

3. Osprey


Hawks! These are not eagles either, and according to science, they have a different Family from every other bird of prey.

So why are they listed among New Mexico’s common hawks? Ospreys may not be hawks, but they clearly resemble them. When they first see an osprey, many people mistake it for some kind of hawk. 

Additionally, these raptors have received nicknames like “Sea Hawk,” River Hawk,” and “Fish Hawk,” which alludes to the similarity between being an osprey and a hawk.

Ospreys are NOT raptors, which is the initial thing you should understand about them.

Fish should come to your mind when you think about an osprey because it is what they consume almost exclusively. Even an osprey’s talons are designed specifically to grab fish.

If you look closely, you can see that they are very curled or even intersect when they are closed completely, which makes them ideal for grabbing onto slick fish.

What makes them even more intriguing is that their outer toe can be turned around to have two on the front and two on the rear.

This special talent, which only owls and ospreys possess, makes them more effective hunters.

4. Northern Harrier

Northern Harrier

Northern Harriers are indeed the second most often seen hawk in New Mexico during the winter, and 11% of checklists include them.

From October until February, they may be observed in the state; after that, they travel up north for the mating season.

The size of a crow to a goose, northern harriers are slim with long, wide wings.

They frequently fly in a v-shaped with the ends of their feathers higher than their body.

Males have a white rear patch and are grey above it and white below, while females are brown.

Its dimensions range from 46 to 50 cm in length, 300 to 750 grams in breadth, and 102 – 118 cm in wingspan.


Before traveling south for the wintertime to southern states, Mexico, and Central America, Northern Harriers dwell in Alaska, Ontario, the Northern Plains, and the Northeast.

The center of the range persists throughout the entire year.

The main prey of Northern Harriers is small animals and tiny birds. They can be spotted hovering low over meadows or marshes.

In thick vegetation like reeds, willows, or brush tails, they build their nests on the ground. They produce 4 – 5 drab, white eggs.

5. Zone-Tailed Hawk

Zone-tailed Hawk
Credits – Wikipedia

Zone-tailed Hawks could be spotted in New Mexico between April to September.

However, they are not frequently seen there. They may be discovered in national forests, including the Gila and Lincoln National Forests.

Zone-tailed Hawks have white stripes across the tail and barring on the underside of their flight feathers. They are dark, nearly black hawks.

Another hawk that is only seen in a few bordering states during the nesting season is the zone-tailed hawk. They move even further south, into Mexico, during the winter.

The entire year is spent by Zone-tailed Hawks in South America.


They hunt in canyons and cliffs, frequently at great altitudes, and can be seen soaring above scrub and desert. Additionally, they will hunt on coastal plains.

The food of Zone-tailed Hawks consists of animals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians.

They attack by flying slowly and hiding until it is too late by utilizing the scenery as a screen.


Seems that the dry nature of New Mexico is exaggerated; there are lots of lush mountains and woods where a lone bird of prey might make a home.

However, a large number of hawks in New Mexico migrate, either coming up from South and Central America in the summer to nest and forage away from the competition or coming back down for the winters from the far north.

However, migration is among the only occasions when this solitary bird will congregate.

Thus Mexico is a wonderful area to spot a few hawks flying together.


Are hawks in New Mexico Protected?

Yes, the hawks in Mexico are protected by Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Are hawks friendly to humans?

In most instances, hawks are not dangerous to humans, and prefer to avoid them altogether.

What are hawks afraid of?

Hawks are most afraid of owls, eagles, and crows even.

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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