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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Harris' Hawk -- Parabuteo unicinctus

RANGE: Resident in southern Kansas, and from southeastern California (recently reintroduced), southern Arizona, southern New Mexico, and central Texas south to South America.

STATUS: Fairly common.

HABITAT: Inhabits arid desert scrub of mesquite, palo verde and large cacti in the Southwest, river woodlands, and brushy flatlands. Infrequently found in yucca, cactus, creosotebush deserts, and oak-juniper habitats. Commonly perches on tops of telephone poles, trees, and bushes; on large cacti; and in snags.


NEST: Nests from 5 to 30 feet up in cactus, mesquite, hackberry, yucca, Spanish-bayonet, paloverde, ironwood, cottonwood, ebony, and other trees. May nest in pairs or in trios with an extra male that also brings prey to the nest.

FOOD: Consumes a diet comprising 57 percent mammals, 35 percent birds, and 7 percent lizards. Feeds on rabbits, wood rats, mice, night-herons, teal, flickers, and other birds and mammals.

REFERENCES: Harrison 1979, Heintzelman 1979, Oberholser 1974a, Sprunt 1955, Terres 1980, Terrill in Farrand 1983a.

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