Types of Hawks in New Jersey - Happiestbeaks

Hammad Tariq

· 11 min read
Types of Hawks in New Jersey

Welcome to our investigation on the several kinds of hawks that may be found in New Jersey! Hawks are magnificent birds of prey that grace the skies with their presence. In New Jersey, you can find several species of hawks, each with unique characteristics and behaviors.

From the majestic Red-tailed Hawk to the agile Cooper's Hawk, these birds play vital roles in the ecosystem, keeping populations of rodents and other small animals in check.

Learning about the various hawk species in New Jersey is sure to be an exciting adventure full of amazing discoveries, regardless of whether you're an enthusiastic birdwatcher or just interested in the local wildlife. Let's delve into the world of these impressive raptors!

9 Types of Hawks in New Jersey

American Kestrel

In New Jersey, you can spot various hawks soaring through the skies, including the American Kestrel. These small but mighty birds of prey are about the size of a mourning dove, with striking colors like rusty red and slate blue. You might see them perched on wires or hovering over open fields, hunting for insects, small mammals, and other birds—the American Kestrel's ability to hunt while remaining motionless results from its quick wings and good vision.

These hawks are mighty hunters despite their small stature; they frequently dive down to capture their prey with incredible speed and accuracy. They're also known for their distinctive hunting calls, ranging from high-pitched screams to rapid chattering.

American Kestrels are adaptable birds found in various habitats across New Jersey, from urban areas to farmland and forests. Their presence serves as a reminder of the value of protecting the environments that allow these fantastic birds to flourish, in addition to serving as a tribute to the state's diverse biodiversity.

Broad-winged Hawk

In New Jersey, one of the fascinating hawks you might spot soaring through the skies is the Broad-winged Hawk. These birds are known for their medium size, with broad wings that allow them to glide effortlessly through the air. Their bodies are sleek and streamlined, helping them maneuver swiftly as they hunt for prey below. Expert hunters, broad-winged hawks mostly eat insects, amphibians, and small animals like mice and voles.

During migration season, these hawks gather in large flocks known as kettles, soaring high in the sky as they travel south for the winter. They frequently employ thermals, or heated air columns, as an easy way to ascend. If you're lucky, you might catch sight of this impressive spectacle during the fall migration.

When visiting New Jersey's vast spaces and woodlands, keep an eye out for any glimpses of the majestic Broad-winged Hawk, which is known to glide gracefully overhead.

Cooper's Hawk

There are several varieties of hawks in New Jersey, each with distinctive qualities. One common hawk species you might come across is the Cooper's Hawk.

These hawks are known for their medium size and agile flight. They have short, rounded wings and long tails, which help them maneuver swiftly through forests and woodlands where they often hunt. Smaller birds are the main prey for Cooper's Hawks, who can dive down from their perches with remarkable accuracy and speed.

These hawks are skilled hunters, using surprise and stealth to catch their prey. They're often found near bird feeders or in areas with dense vegetation where their targets are abundant.

Despite their hunting prowess, Cooper's Hawks face challenges from habitat loss and collisions with human structures. Conservation efforts are essential to ensure their continued presence in New Jersey's ecosystem.


In New Jersey, you can spot a variety of hawks soaring through the skies. There are several varieties of these magnificent raptors, and each has unique qualities. One common type is the Red-tailed hawk. Recognizable by its reddish-brown tail, this hawk is often seen perched on poles or gliding gracefully over open fields, hunting for rodents and small mammals.

Another type found in New Jersey is the Cooper's Hawk. With its sleek build and striking plumage, the Cooper's Hawk is skilled at maneuvering through dense forests in pursuit of smaller birds and insects. One may be spotted dashing between trees or diving to seize its prey.

The Broad-winged Hawk is also present in New Jersey, especially during migration seasons. These hawks travel in large flocks, known as kettles, soaring high in the sky before descending to roost for the night. Keep an eye out for them during their seasonal journeys.

Northern Goshawk

The Northern Goshawk is one of the many hawk species that soar through the skies over New Jersey. This impressive bird of prey is known for its large size and robust build. With a wingspan of around 3 feet, the Northern Goshawk is a formidable hunter, preying on small mammals and birds.

While it might be challenging to identify, Northern Goshawks are often distinguished by their slate-gray back and wings, with prominent stripes marking their lighter underparts. Their piercing yellow eyes and hooked beaks are vital features to look for when trying to spot one.

These hawks prefer forested areas, where they can use their agility and speed to navigate through trees in pursuit of prey. They are surprisingly skilled at navigating through thick vegetation, given their size.

Red-shouldered Hawk

In New Jersey, one of the hawks you might spot is the Red-shouldered hawks. These birds are known for their striking appearance, with vibrant reddish-brown shoulders and barred chests. They're often found in forests and wooded areas, hunting for small mammals, amphibians, and insects.

Red-shouldered Hawks are skilled hunters, using their sharp talons to catch prey mid-flight or pounce on them from a perch. You might hear their distinctive call, a high-pitched whistle, echoing through the trees as they communicate with other hawks in the area.

These birds are essential members of the ecosystem, helping to control rodent populations and maintaining a balance in nature. Take a moment to appreciate a Red-shouldered Hawk if you're fortunate enough to see one in New Jersey.

Red-tailed Hawk

In New Jersey, one of the most common hawks you might spot soaring in the skies is the Red-tailed hawks. These majestic birds are known for their striking appearance, with a reddish-brown tail against their pale underside.

Red-tailed Hawks are large, with broad wings and a keen eyesight that helps them hunt effectively. Though they have occasionally been observed to pursue birds and even snakes, their primary food source is small mammals like mice, voles, and rabbits.

Red-tailed Hawks are frequently spotted perched on telephone poles or treetops, looking for possible prey by scanning the ground. During the breeding season, they build nests high in trees, using sticks and other materials to construct a sturdy platform.

Rough-legged Hawk

In New Jersey, you can spot various hawks soaring through the skies, including the Rough-legged Hawk. These magnificent birds are easily recognized by their feathered legs, and they are adapted for colder climates. In New Jersey, during the winter, one can frequently spot Rough-legged Hawks hunting small mammals such as mice and voles.

They have broad wings and a distinctive white band near the end of their tail, making them quite striking to observe. Despite their name, Rough-legged Hawks are graceful flyers, effortlessly gliding above fields and marshes in search of prey. They prefer open areas to spot their next meal from above easily.

Keep an eye out for these impressive raptors during the winter season as they migrate south to spend the colder months in New Jersey. Seeing a Rough-legged Hawk in the wild is a thrilling experience and a reminder of the diverse wildlife that calls New Jersey home.

Sharp-shinned Hawk

In New Jersey, you can spot various types of hawks soaring through the skies, and one of them is the Sharp-shinned Hawk. These birds are small but mighty hunters. They can move quickly through woods and woodlands thanks to their long tails and short wings, feeding on smaller birds and mammals.

Unlike some other hawks, Sharp-shinned Hawks have rounded wings and square-tipped tails. Their ability to fly quickly makes them ideal for slicing through dense foliage in pursuit of prey. Their plumage varies depending on age and sex, with adults sporting blue-gray backs and reddish-brown barred chests. Juveniles have brown streaks on their underparts.

These hawks are known for their stealthy hunting techniques. They often perch in trees, patiently waiting for unsuspecting prey to pass by before swooping down with incredible speed and accuracy. While primarily feeding on birds, they consume small mammals like mice and voles.


In New Jersey, you can spot various hawks soaring through the skies. The most common ones include the red-tailed hawk, known for its rusty red tail feathers and keen hunting skills. Then there's the Cooper's hawk, recognized for its sleek build and agile flight, often seen darting through wooded areas in pursuit of prey.

Another frequent sight is the sharp-shinned hawk, similar in appearance to Cooper's but smaller in size, making it a master of surprise attacks on songbirds. Finally, during migratory seasons, watch for the broad-winged hawk as large groups of birds travel through the state on their way south.

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About Hammad Tariq

Hammad Tariq, the passionate founder and author of HappiestBeaks, is a dedicated bird enthusiast, caretaker, and lover. With a deep-seated affection for avian companions, he channels his expertise into crafting insightful and informative blogs on bird care and behavior.