Red-tailed hawk photo by Jeff Drake
By Richard Tharp, Wildlife Biologist, Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries
Hawks are part of a large family called Accipitridae, which includes ospreys, kites, and eagles. Falcons, members of the family Falconidae, are closely related and often referred to as hawks. The information following will summarize five groups: the buteos, accipiters, falcons, harriers, and the ospreys.
The buteo hawks are the largest group. They are characterized by broad, round wings and tails. They are not suited for fast flight but are known as gliding and soaring hawks. These birds have great value in that they feed heavily on rodents. Include in this category are the red-shouldered hawk, broad-winged hawk, Swainson’s hawk, red-tailed hawk, and the rough-legged hawk.