How Long Do Hawks Stay in One Area?

If you’re interested in the behavior and habits of hawks, then this article is for you. Whether you’re a backyard birder who’s trying to keep hawks around for as long as possible, an avid bird watcher who’s trying to spot certain hawk species, or you’re just trying to figure out how much longer they’ll be hanging around your property, you need some information on hawks’ “time schedules”. In such situations, the main question on people’s minds is something along the lines of: how long do hawks stay in one area?

Unfortunately, the answer can vary widely depending on multiple factors including species and human interference. Are food resources scarce? Is the weather unfavorable? Were their nests disturbed?

Generally speaking, hawks are creatures of habit, which means they like to stick around their habitat areas. Still, some hawks migrate while others don’t. Some will stick to their nests year after year while others will build new ones when needed.

Keep reading to learn more about this fascinating topic.

Do Hawks Return to the Same Nest Every Year?

hawk getting ready to fly

As we mentioned above, hawks are creatures of habit. This is why they’re usually very protective of their homes.

Author Note: In fact, hawks will become very vocal and even get aggressive if they see any intruders lurking close to their resting place. So it should come as no surprise that hawks are also quite fond of their nests.

For the most part, hawks don’t build new nests with each breeding season. Instead, they come back to the same nest every year. Many hawk species will do this year after year until they can no longer use the nest.

That being said, hawks will build a new nest if the old one becomes too damaged or disturbed by humans. Additionally, there are hawk species that do build a new nest every year.

Do Cooper ‘s Hawks Return to the Same Nest Every Year?

Photo by David Brown

The Cooper’s Hawk returns to the same area for breeding and nesting every year, but they don’t use the same nest from the previous season. They usually build new nests every year.

This hawk species prefers less dense areas with larger trees. You may spot them in evergreen forests as well as some suburban areas.

Do Harris Hawks Return to the Same Nest Every Year?

Photo by Alan Vernon

Harris Hawks are unique because they’re non-migratory and can breed throughout the year. As a result, they remain in the same area their whole lives, so the same nest gets reused over and over again.

Do Red-Tailed Hawks Return to the Same Nest Every Year?

Photo by naturespicsonline

Despite being a highly adaptive species, Red-tailed hawks do return to the same nest every year. They’ll use the same nest over and over until it’s no longer safe for the eggs.

Do All Hawks Mate for Life?

two hawks in a tree

If the conditions allow for it, hawks will mate for life. As such, if a male and female hawk “couple” is in the same habitat every breeding season, they’ll stay monogamous.

But this isn’t always possible, hence, the right conditions. You see, various factors can prevent a hawk pair from staying “committed” throughout their life.

For one, most hawk species have solitary tendencies. This means that these hawks will only live in groups during migration and breeding seasons.

So, if the hawk couple can’t find each other once again during the following breeding season, they’ll breed with another partner. Reasons why they might not find each other include one of the pair getting injured, captured, or dying.

Do Cooper’s Hawks Mate for Life?

Cooper’s Hawks will remain monogamous for life as long as both the male and female are alive. But if one of them dies, the other individual will seek and mate with a new partner.

Do Sparrowhawks Mate for Life?

Photo by Hajotthu

Sparrowhawks are not only one of the smaller hawk species, but they also exhibit a significant size difference between males and females. The female can weigh up to twice as much as the male, which makes mating rather risky.

Author Note: However, they’re monotonous creatures because the females rely a lot on males during the breeding season. They’ll mate with the same partner for as long as they’re in the same area.

Besides bringing extra food for the female to fatten up and increase her chances of laying eggs, the male also provides the food for both the mother and chicks after hatching.

Do Harris Hawks Mate for Life?

Another reason why Harris Hawks are unique is that they’re particularly social, unlike other hawk species. They don’t have solitary tendencies and often live in groups where they share responsibilities.

Some groups have a single monogamous pair while other groups take up polyandry. Either way, every member in the group helps protect the nest and goes hunting for food.

Do Red-Tailed Hawks Mate for Life?

Red-tailed Hawks are the most common type of hawk in the United States. They’re known to be monogamous, returning back to the same area during the breeding season to mate with the same partner as long as they’re both alive.

Do All Hawks Migrate?

According to the Hawk Migration Association of North America, not all hawks migrate. Some southern species are non-migrant and some species are partial migrants.

The latter are mostly northern populations migrating relatively short distances inside North America, while the former southern populations remain settled where they are. However nowadays, some migratory species live year-round in various cities.

Hawks, like other birds, migrate in search of three primary resources: food, mating, and nesting locations.

How Do You Attract Hawks to Your Yard?

Sharp-shinned Hawk

If you’re aiming to create the ultimate bird-friendly yard, then you’re probably trying to lure in the ever so rare raptors onto your property. Attracting hawks isn’t easy, but here are some tips to help you keep them around for as long as possible:

  • Provide food – raptors are carnivorous, but they don’t all eat the same prey. Most common backyard hawks prey on smaller birds such as finches, sparrows, doves, and thrushes.

The best way to attract hawks is to supply that prey by luring in said birds with a good feeding station. When the birds gather, a raptor will eventually come by for a snack.         Insects and rodents also work as prey for hawks.

However, keep in mind it’s not acceptable to deliberately feed hawks. Refrain from baiting raptors with pet mice, raw meat, or any other food.

  • Provide water – most raptors usually get their liquid intake from the blood of their prey, so they don’t really need to drink water. However, they tend to visit bird baths to cool off and bathe during hot summer months.

Providing bird baths can be a good way to attract hawks. They can also double as a source of food by luring in other visitors.

  • Provide perches and shelter – raptors usually spot their prey from large, stable perches and roost in sheltered areas after a large meal when they need time for digestion. These can be snags, deciduous or coniferous trees, fences, deck railings, or even on the roof of a house, shed, or garage.
  • Provide nesting sites – raptors will use the same places that they favor for perches and shelter as nesting sites.
  • Keep the yard quiet so not to disturb the raptors. Hawks will wait for their prey, and they’ll need a quiet, bird-friendly place to do so.
  • Limit pruning and avoid heavily grooming your landscapes. You want to keep your yard looking as natural as possible so that the hawks are more at ease in a native-looking habitat. Not to mention, such habitat will also attract more prey for the raptors.
  • Don’t use rodenticides, insecticides, or traps that eliminate raptors’ food.

How do You Keep Hawks Away from Your Yard?

Cooper's Hawk

Author Note: On the opposite side, you may not want hawks hanging around your yard. So instead of wondering how long they’re going to stay there, here are some tips to help keep them humanely:

  • Install an owl decoy as owls and eagles are predators of hawks.
  • Shield your bird feeders. Hawks look for their prey from above, so if they can’t see what they’d want to eat, they won’t drop by.
  • Set up noise deterrents to scare away hawks.
  • Install roosting spikes on perching areas to make it difficult for hawks to hold on.
  • Cover your livestock with anti-hawk netting.
  • Remove hawks’ vantage points. Start by cutting down leafless branches or trees standing alone.
  • Remove food sources such as rodents and squirrels by securing the garbage, blocking access to crops and fruit, and applying deterrents.
  • Get a rooster or a guard dog.
  • Set up a scarecrow.
  • Use a reflective surface to scare hawks away.
  • Minimize ground feeding for birds.

Wrap Up

small hawk on branch

So how long do hawks stay in one area? Well as you can tell by now, this depends on many factors such as species, food availability, weather conditions, and human interference.

We hope you enjoyed this article on how long do hawks stay in one area.

Fly high friends!


Where do most hawks live?

Hawks hunt for small mammals mostly and they like to catch them alive. Consequently, they are usually found in forests or open fields. Increasingly so, they can be found in more suburban and urban areas.

Is a hawk and falcon the same?

No, falcons are generally smaller and have a specialized bill that they use to kill their prey. Hawks often crush their catch with their talons.

What is a group of hawks called?

At certain times of the year, groups of hawks gather in big swirling groups. These are called kettles.

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