Do Hawks Migrate? [Answer Explained]

Migration is the act of animals moving from one place to the other. One animal that usually comes to mind when thinking of migration are probably birds, specifically geese. However, geese are not the only birds that can migrate. Quite a few birds can and that includes hawks.

In this article, we will learn if hawks migrate and if it is specific to only a certain type of hawk.


Do Hawks Migrate?

Hawks migrate in groups called kettles in spring if they are birds that are usually from up north. Southern species tend to stay in the same area because the weather is warm enough for them. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for hawks who are native to the north. If it gets too cold, they have to head down to the south where it is warmer.

Now, not all hawks migrate. The following hawks are the most common ones that do migrate:

· Red-tailed Hawks: For Red-Tailed Hawks, they migrate as far as Mexico and Central America. Some might even stay in the same area depending on where they are located.

· Cooper’s Hawks: For these hawks, they make long-distance migrations rather than shorter ones like Sharp-Shinned Hawks.

· Sharp-Shinned Hawks: These hawks migrate around October to the south and in the early spring they fly back.

· Northern Goshawk: They tend to do it around mid to late December.

· Red-Shouldered Hawk: These birds also tend to go south

This is just a small list of the hawks that can migrate but are some of the most common ones that you will see migrating during the year.

Do Hawks Migrate in the Winter?

Some hawks do indeed migrate for the winter. Recall that not all hawks do migrate for the winter, but the ones that do tend to be ones that live in the north. If it gets too cold for them, then they are going to head south because otherwise they would end up falling prey to the cold and harsh winters.

If the southern species of hawks did happen to migrate, it would be because the south has become too cold for them to survive properly. The time of year this happens can vary. Some do it in September, but a lot seem to do it in October.

Should you live in say the Northeast, it is unlikely that you would see a hawk during the winter because they would have been long gone by then. The best way to see them, if you are interested in that sort of thing, is to look up when it is easiest to spot them and where during migration.

Do Hawks Migrate South For the Winter?

A good majority of hawks migrate south for the winter. It is not all species of hawks, but a lot of them do. If a hawk is from Alaska, Canada, or other parts of North America, it will go south but stay in the local United States. However, some can fly all the way to Central and South America believe it or not.

The migration is in a pattern and depends on the particular hawk species, which is something we have been trying to emphasize by this point in the article. Hawks really are interesting animals because not only are they great hunters, but they are great migrators!

What Hawks do Migrate?

The hawks that migrate seem to be ones that live in cold weather. Canada and the northern parts of the United States are very vast. There is a large portion that faces extreme winters. The farther north you go and the colder it gets so any hawk that is living in Canada is definitely going to need to head south for the winter. If they do not, they will not be able to survive the season.

In the south, the weather tends to stay warm enough for hawks to live comfortably so they usually stay in one area.


Do Cooper’s Hawks Migrate?

Cooper’s hawks do migrate and tend to do so alone surprisingly enough. When they migrate, they do a lot of flapping and gliding. Cooper’s Hawks are very common and can be found from Canada all the way to Northern Mexico.

Now the ones that are living in Mexico probably do not have to fly somewhere warmer because Mexico is pretty warm. However, those that are living in Canada are certainly going to fly south for the winter due to how cold Canada can get.

A Canadian winter is no joke! They make Northeastern United States winters look like child’s play.

Do All Hawks Migrate?

We have mentioned before that all hawks do not migrate. The hawks that are native to the southern United States, Mexico, Central America, and Southern America are unlikely to migrate anywhere unless it is getting very, very cold in the area. So cold to where they absolutely cannot handle it.

Cooper’s Hawks that are living in Mexico or somewhere around there are not going to have to even bother to migrate. They probably have it a little easier than other hawks who are stuck heading down to the south during the cold, winter months then having to go all the way back once it is warm enough.

Do Hawks Fly South For the Winter?

There are some hawks that do end up flying south for the winter. The best way to find out which hawks go down to the south for winter are ones that are native to the northern areas of like Canada and the United States.

As someone who has lived in the Northeast, trust me when I say that it can get freezing in this area and for birds whose feathers do not exactly keep a lot of warmth, it is best if they can migrate south.

When it ends up becoming winter in the south, these animals will then start flying back home to where they are originally from.

How Does Weather Affect Hawk Migration?

The weather can have a big impact on hawk migration. One thing to keep in mind is wind speed. This can obviously play a big part in how far and fast a hawk can go. Actually, it can determine whether a hawk can even migrate at all! They would have to wait until the weather clears up.

Another way weather can affect hawk migration is through climate change. Whether you want to admit it, climate change does play a factor in animals migrating. The warmer it gets for hawks native to the North, the less likely they are to migrate down all the way to the south. Why would they need to when their home is warm enough for them?

Is it Good to Have Hawks Going Over Your Yard?

Hawks can be a problem for your backyard because if you have any small animals or farm animals, they can be a danger to them. Even if a hawk is just migrating, they do have to stop for a break during their travels. While they are traveling, they might come across a farm or backyard with animals. For hawks, they will see this as not just a snack but their next meal.

Best way to keep hawks out of your yard is by using the following methods:

· Owl decoy or scarecrow

· Make noise like wind chimes or radios

· Some kind of bright light. You can use old CDs or DVDs for this.

Now, by using a mixture of these methods, you will have a good chance of deterring hawks away from any pets or farm animals you have on your property.

How to Engage in Hawkwatching?

Hawkwatching is the act of watching hawks while they are migrating and there are several ways you can do so. There are watch sites set up for people who want to see hawks migrate during the winter. You have to look around and try to figure out where these are so it might take research on your part.

Once you find one, take binoculars, food/water, and a chair so you can sit. There might be an entrance fee to the area, so always make sure you ask ahead of time. Who wants to show up, all excited to do some Hawkwatching, and then get turned away because you do not have the money to pay the cover?

Final Thoughts

And there you go; all you hawks and general animal lovers out there. You now know that hawks can indeed migrate. It does depend on the hawk, but a good majority of hawks have to migrate because the weather is too cold for them. Obviously, there are some exceptions with hawks that will stay where they are and not migrate because they have no reason to.

If you ever want to see some hawks migrating, look for Hawk Watching places in your area. Never know until you try!

Disclaimer: This blog should not be considered as being professional pet medical advice. The content published on this blog is for informational purposes only. Please always consult with a licensed and local veterinarian for medical advice.

About Shaun Clarke

Shaun is passionate about pets and animals, especially dogs, cats, and rabbits. He owns a dog and a couple of cats too. He loves visiting wildlife sanctuaries and shares a strong bond with animals. When he is not writing, he loves to do a barbecue in the backyard with his family and friends.