Hawks are birds of prey that are widely distributed on every continent except Antarctica. These birds are all part of the Accipitridae family, which includes eagles, buzzards, and falcons. Two types or groups of hawks exist, the Accipiters and the Buteos.
The Accipiter Group generally hunts birds and lives in forested habitats. They hunt by streaking through the air toward a target from a seated position. The Buteo group typically contains larger birds, and they hunt from above, often circling in the air looking for prey.
Hawks occasionally form groups for different reasons. A group of hawks is usually called a Kettle.
Other common collective nouns for birds of prey in general that can also apply to hawks may include:
The smallest hawk in the Americas is the male Sharp-shinned Hawk, which averages 9.1 to 11.8 (23 to 30 centimeters) inches in length. The largest hawk is the female Ferruginous Hawk, which measures 20 to 27 inches (51 to 69 centimeters) in length.
Red-Tailed Hawks are one of the most abundant and easily recognized of the Buteo Hawks in North America. This species, like many others, have adapted to living in cities, suburbs, and rural areas. They feed on small mammals like squirrels and rabbits.
Hawks, like falcons, are used in falconry. One of the most popular hawks in this sport is the Harris Hawk because they learn quickly and are easy to train. These hawks are native to the Americas but are in Europe because of their popularity in falconry.
What is a Pair of Hawks Called?
Some hawk species form pairs, particularly during the breeding season. These pairs spend a lot of time together raising and feeding their young; however, they do not have a special name.
Adult hawks mate in a way that seems dangerous and death-defying. A male and female pair fly in circles together and when they reach a high enough height, the male dives towards the female and latches on while they fall, plummeting towards the ground, until the male lets go.
Some hawk species are monogamous, mating for life. They hunt and migrate together, in addition to raising their young. One species of hawk, the Harris Hawk, often forms a threesome instead of a pair, with two males and one female.
What is a Group of Baby Hawks Called?
Male and female hawks usually build nests together in trees, but sometimes on cliff sides or the ground in grasses. Once the nest is constructed, females lay an average of five eggs. Depending on the species, females may breed up to three times each year.
Both males and females help to incubate the eggs, although the females generally spend more time on the nest than the males. The eggs typically hatch out after about one month. These baby hawks do not have a specific group name.
The hatchlings stay in the nest, then become fledglings around 45 to 50 days after hatching. Even after the young have fully fledged and can survive on their own, some species’ juveniles stay with their parents for up to three years afterward.
Do Hawks Flock Together in Groups?
Some hawk species flock together in groups, while others are more solitary. Species that tend to have monogamous relationships will often form groups comprised of the mating pair and their offspring. Some of these groups may contain offspring up to three years old.
In areas like desert environments where prey is scarce, some hawks form groups that hunt cooperatively. This behavior gives them a higher success rate. The birds take turns scouting ahead in the air until they capture an animal and then share the prey.
During migration, hawks often travel together. This behavior offers a more efficient way to travel than a solitary bird. These groups catch thermals, creating circling formations that look like the birds are boiling upwards in the air. This behavior is why groups are called boils or kettles.
Do Hawks Migrate?
Most hawks migrate annually from the extremes of their ranges, where it gets cold in the winter, to warmer areas closer to the Equator. The hawk species that form groups throughout the year typically migrate together within larger numbers of other hawks.
These migrating groups are often comprised of multiple species of birds of prey. Some hawk species migrate thousands of miles from their breeding grounds to the overwintering areas, from Canada to South America.
Research has shown that as population numbers decline and the climate changes, migration behavior may also change. The persistence of these raptors depends on the protection of habitats used for breeding grounds, migratory stop-overs, and overwintering areas.