28 Birds of Prey in Arizona (Raptors) (with Footage)

Arizona is house to a various array of birds of prey, also referred to as raptors.

From the majestic bald eagle to the elusive owl, these birds are a sight to behold.

On this article, we are going to discover the 28 species of birds of prey that may be present in Arizona.

We are going to focus on their distinctive traits and habitats, and supply recommendations on the way to spot them within the wild.

So come alongside as we take a more in-depth have a look at Arizona’s feathered predators.

Birds of Prey in Arizona

1. Purple-tailed Hawk

Purple-tailed Hawk
Purple-tailed Hawk

The Purple-tailed hawk is among the many bigger varieties of hawks all through Arizona, with a most wing span of 51 inches (4.5 ft).

Its coloration varies from darkish brown to virtually utterly white, however its rusty purple tail is at all times a giveaway.

Along with its pure habitat of open grassland, this massive hawk may also be present in human-dominated environments corresponding to cities.

Its most well-liked searching spot is a fence or put up by the facet of the highway.

Among the many most prevalent hawk species in Arizona, the Purple-tailed Hawk is current all around the Grand Canyon State all through your complete 12 months.

This hen of prey swoops down from its perch to seize rodents in addition to different small animals which have ventured out into the open.

2. Cooper’s Hawk


This small Arizona hawk may be very fast and expert when it pertains to snatching flying birds.

It should even eat species which are a lot bigger than itself once in a while.

Cooper’s Hawk males are grayish-blue on prime and have distinctive reddish-orange bars on their undersides.

They’ve fiery purple eyes that pierce you.

Whenever you see a Cooper’s Hawk sitting on a limb, chances are you’ll get an excellent have a look at its orange breast and backside.

Cooper’s Hawks are in a position to make swift twists and speedy actions amid the dense foliage of woods and bushes due to their lengthy tail and tiny, rounded wings.


Though Cooper’s Hawks have been previously uncommon in city settings, corresponding to Tucson and Phoenix, they’ve since unfold and are actually usually seen within the metropolis, the place they hunt songbirds and doves.

Cooper’s Hawks are identified to make shock visits to hen feeders in an try and assault unsuspecting songbirds by launching themselves at them from a excessive, hid perch.

Within the northern areas of North America, it solely seems throughout the summer season, however in Arizona, it’s a year-round resident.

3. Sharp-Shinned Hawk

Sharp-Shinned Hawk
Sharp-Shinned Hawk

In distinction to the state’s largest hawk, the red-tailed hawk, the sharp-shinned hawk is the smallest and will be seen recurrently in backyards throughout the state as a result of it preys on songbirds.

These hawks are small, agile, and have a definite sample of orange feathers on their chests; their wings and backs are a blue-gray coloration.

Sharp-Shinned Hawks have a restricted mating vary within the northern and jap components of Arizona; nevertheless, they are often discovered all throughout the state at different instances of the 12 months.

Sharp-Shinned Hawks are among the many commonest kind of Canadian birds to spend the winter in Arizona.

4. Northern Goshawk

Northern Goshawks are significantly bigger than each Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned Hawks, making them Arizona’s largest accipiter hawk.

It resembles buteo hawks in measurement and form, notably the size of its wings and the form of its tail.


Buteo hawks spend much more time within the air and on perches in seen areas, whereas this species spends a lot much less time doing both.

Quite, the Northern Goshawk hunts by flying low over open forests or alongside forest edges, stunning its prey within the open.

When searching from a perch, this hawk is often troublesome to identify due to its camouflage.

In the course of the breeding season, Northern Goshawks are solely discovered within the jap half of Arizona, however they’re year-round residents in every single place else within the state.

5. Swainson’s Hawk

A bit of buteo, the Swainson’s Hawk, could also be seen in Arizona’s summers hovering over dry plains and open locations.

Lengthy and slender, the wings of those hawks are distinguished by the stark distinction between the brown breast and the white undersides and chin.

Migratory birds of prey like Swainson’s Hawks spend the colder months of the 12 months in Argentina.

Flocks reaching the a whole lot of 1000’s go south within the autumn, generally accompanied by different species like Broad-winged Hawks.

From April by way of September, the Grand Canyon State is house to many flocks of those widespread hawks.

6. Harris Hawk

Sharp-Shinned Hawk
Sharp-Shinned Hawk

The buteo hawk is a big hen with an extended tail and legs.

A darkish brown raptor has chestnut spots on its shoulders and decrease legs.

The white terminal line on the base of a Harriss Hawk’s tail is one more incredible figuring out attribute, particularly whereas the hen is driving thermals.


Though this species of hawk is extra at house in South America and Mexico, it additionally breeds in southern Arizona.

Harris’s Hawks, not like different hawk species, are very sociable and ceaselessly hunt in teams of three or extra.

Hawks that work collectively are more practical than solitary birds whereas searching, in keeping with researchers.

7. Tough-legged Hawk

Though it’s a hen of the arctic tundra throughout northern Canada and Alaska, the Tough-legged Hawk spends the winter in lots of sections of the US.

From October by way of March, chances are you’ll get a glimpse of this species in Arizona, the place it thrives within the state’s pastures, large fields, and even marshes.

It often hunts from a perch like a fence put up or phone pole, though it might hover like a kestrel if mandatory.

Giant buteo hawks could also be acknowledged by their darkish brown underbellies, which stand in stark distinction to the white ideas of their wings and tails.

8. Northern Harrier

The Northern Harrier might nest within the Arctic, but it surely migrates south for the winter, spending its time in Central America and the southern United States.

From October by way of April, this harrier could also be seen hovering over Arizona’s huge grasslands and wetlands.

Probably the greatest methods to identify a harrier is by watching the way it acts.

They hunt by flying gently just a few ft above the bottom and pouncing on any rodent that occurs to be out of its gap.

9. Zone-tailed Hawk

One other migratory hawk species, the Zone-tailed Hawk, could also be seen in southern Arizona throughout the summer season months whereas it’s nesting.

Except for the luminous bars on their flight and tail plumes, these hawks are practically black.

It’s fascinating to notice that they give the impression of being and act equally to Turkey Vultures.

As a result of most of its prey species see Turkey Vultures as innocent, ornithologists suppose that Zone-tailed Hawks benefit from this resemblance.


They wish to hunt reptiles, small animals, and birds on canyons, desert cliffs, and foothills.

10. Frequent Black Hawk

The wings of this enormous hawk are fairly large, however its tail is relatively small.

The bottom of its tail is white, whereas the remainder of its physique is a putting soot black.

Though prevalent in Central America and Mexico, Frequent Black Hawks might also be present in southern Arizona, the place there’s a breeding pair.


Fish, amphibians, and rodents present in or close to water are their major prey, they usually could also be present in abundance in canyons with forested streams.

In September, these hawks start their lengthy journey south to spend the winter throughout Mexico.

Swamps and marshes are their most well-liked habitats in Central America.

11. Ferruginous Hawk

A really large buteo hawk, the Ferruginous Hawk, could also be discovered within the western United States’ grasslands and deserts.

The most important hawk all through Arizona, its wingspan might attain as much as 55 inches.

Nonetheless, you may see this hawk wherever within the state of Arizona exterior of the mating season because it solely breeds within the northern a part of the state.

There are two totally different variants of this species, distinguished by their coloration; nevertheless, the lighter morph is rather more frequent.

The underside of the sunshine variant is pure white, whereas the pinnacle is grey and the remainder of the physique is a reddish brown.

Prairie canine make up a good portion of those hawks’ food plan; nevertheless, in addition they eat different small animals.

12. Golden Eagle

Golden Eagle
Golden Eagle

The majestic Golden Eagle will be discovered within the western states of the US, the place it breeds.

The Arizona Golden Eagle is a resident breeder in a number of components of the state and is definitely noticed at any time of the 12 months.

The absence of white on the pinnacle is a distinguishing characteristic of the Golden Eagle, which units it other than the Bald Eagle.

Amongst a number of different species of raptor that may be seen in each the New World and the Outdated World, the Golden Eagle is taken into account to be circumpolar.

13. Bald Eagle

The Bald Eagle, a large raptor with a wing span of as much as 8 ft, is a standard sight over the Nice Canyon State.

Along with its huge measurement, the Bald Eagle is amongst Arizona’s most distinctive birds due to the putting distinction between its white tail and head and its uniformly darkish brown physique.

A younger Bald Eagle’s total coloring is darkish brown, with gentle, irregular streaking throughout its physique and a buffy white underbelly.


This massive raptor primarily breeds in central Arizona, however it may be seen all through the state at different instances of the 12 months.

The bald eagle spends numerous time flying excessive on thermal currents with its wings unfold out flat. Birds, fish, and small mammals make up a portion of their food plan, however carrion can be a staple.

14. Osprey

The Osprey isn’t an eagle, but it surely appears like one due to its massive measurement and wingspan (as much as 69 inches/5.5 ft).

The Osprey will be acknowledged by its blackish-gray higher components, white underparts, and black wrist spots throughout its decrease wings.

Not like another raptor, this massive Arizona hen will truly dive headfirst into the water in an effort to catch fish, generally going utterly below the floor because it tries to seize a fish, together with its ft.

On account of their searching strategies, Ospreys are often by no means seen removed from water, except for when they’re migrating, when they may fly throughout land that lacks water.

In central Arizona, the Osprey is an unusual breeder, however in southern Arizona, it’s a widespread winter customer.

15. Peregrine Falcon

The peregrine falcon holds the report for the quickest identified animal.

This unimaginable falcon can dive from above at over 200 miles per hour!

Due to this, it’s among the many most profitable Arizona raptors.

In distinction, Peregrine Falcons rely virtually fully on hen prey, whereas Prairie Falcons eat quite a lot of totally different animals.

On account of their food plan, peregrines have been particularly weak to the consequences of the pesticide DDT on eggshells, which led to a catastrophic declining inhabitants within the Nineteen Sixties and Seventies.

The gorgeous Peregrine Falcon was as soon as very uncommon in Arizona, however since DDT was banned, its inhabitants has rebounded, and it’s now a standard sight throughout the state.

16. Prairie Falcon

Those that name Arizona’s wide-open expanses house might possible see Prairie falcons swooping down from the sky to pounce on unsuspecting ground-dwelling prey.

Flying low over the grassland and prairie, they ambush unsuspecting birds and mammals earlier than pouncing on them.

Prairie Falcons are massive birds which are discovered ceaselessly in Arizona.

Nonetheless, their brown coloring could make them troublesome to identify within the wild, which truly works to the advantage of the species.

17. American Kestrel

Along with being the smallest falcon in North America, the American Kestrel can be among the many continent’s most frequent raptors.


The male American Kestrel is a vibrant hen with a rufous orange head and tail, grayish-blue wings, and blackened ideas.

The male moreover has a black mustache, a darkish bar above one eye, and a reddish-orange cap on his head.

Feminine American Kestrels are sometimes paler than males, though each sexes exhibit rufous orange on their backs and wings.

It’s like searching from a excessive vantage level, corresponding to a phone pole or a tree limb, throughout open fields and meadows.

In an effort to catch a rat or different small mammal, the American Kestrel will descend to the bottom and strike with its talons.

Bugs and worms are among the many most frequent prey throughout the summer season and spring months, whereas rodents and small birds are probably the most frequent prey throughout the winter months.

It likes to set its house in outdated Woodpecker burrows or different unused crevices and cracks in constructions.

They are going to even use human-made nesting packing containers.

To the north, the American Kestrel is a migrating raptor, whereas within the south, it’s a everlasting resident.

It lives in Arizona all 12 months spherical.

18. Crested Caracara

Caracaras are associated to falcons, however their massive payments, lengthy legs, and behavior of strolling on the bottom give them a really totally different look.

All through southern Arizona, near the Mexican border, Crested Caracaras are a uncommon breed of hen, however their inhabitants is on the rise.

These raptors, like vultures, usually dine on useless animals.

Within the wild, you’ll most frequently see them perched in a lofty tree or gliding low to the bottom.

19. Black Vulture

The one time you’ll see a Black Vulture in Arizona is that if one occurs to be a stray from Mexico or the Southeastern United States.

The one non-black components of a Black Vulture are the white ideas of the wings, that are solely seen when wanting up.

They’ve darkish, wrinkled pores and skin on their naked scalp.

Since grownup {couples} have a tendency to stay to their breeding territory all year long, the Black Vultures seen in Arizona are possible juveniles.

Black vultures, not like their turkey vulture cousins, have a much less developed sense of odor.

That is why Turkey Vultures are ceaselessly employed as “scouts” to find roadkill and scare away different, smaller vulture species.

20. Turkey Vulture

The Turkey Vulture, with a wing span of as much as 6.1 ft, is the largest of the vulture species that makes its house in Arizona.


When in flight, you may discover that this massive black raptor has a vibrant purple head and darkish grey tail feathers.

When in flight, a Turkey Vulture is definitely acknowledged by the V form of its wings and the brightness of its wingtips.

This massive raptor prefers open areas with scattered woods and spends the summer season months in Arizona, the place it visits and breeds.

This raptor, like different vultures, has a robust choice for consuming useless animals and may usually be seen congregating in massive teams close to areas with contemporary roadkill.

Black vultures share some bodily traits with Turkey vultures however are a lot much less widespread within the state of Arizona.

21. Nice Horned Owl

The Nice Horned Owl, with a wingspan of as much as 4 ft, is the largest owl species present in Michigan.

It has huge, vibrant eyes and two tufts of brown feathers on its head that is perhaps mistaken for horns.

This owl begins nesting in Arizona as early as January or February of every 12 months.


This animal is almost solely nocturnal and depends on its acute sense of listening to to hunt at night time.

In an effort to reproduce, the Nice Horned Owl makes use of the nests of different large birds, together with herons or raptors, slightly than setting up its personal.

It inhabits a broad vary of environments in Michigan, from forests to metropolis streets, and is noticed year-round in Arizona.

The duck-sized birds and the rabbit- and fox-sized offspring aren’t any match for this owl’s searching prowess.

22. Lengthy-eared Owl

Compared to the beforehand listed species, these sneaky owls are a lot smaller.

It’s most at house in thick forests, the place it might stalk the tiny rodents and animals that make the grasslands their house.

Like different owls, Lengthy-eared Owls have fringes on their flying plumage that permit them to glide by way of the air undetected.

Along with their acute listening to, this helps them shock their prey at night time and seize it.

Despite their stealthy nature, these widespread Arizona owls are simply acknowledged by their prolonged, low hoots.

Along with the massive tufts of plumage on their ears, these owls could also be acknowledged by the droppings left behind within the grassy areas close to the coniferous timber.

23. Barn Owl

Barn Owl
Barn Owl

The Barn Owl, with its white plumage and “friendlier” demeanor, is a much less imposing species of owl than the Nice Horned Owl.

Barn Owls are very elusive since they’re nocturnal raptors with glorious night time imaginative and prescient. Their distinctive shrieking sounds, nevertheless, make them simple to identify.

In case you occur to see one flying within the sky throughout a full moon, chances are you’ll even be capable to make out its white underbelly.

These owls will be seen in Arizona all year long, they usually favor searching in grassy fields and open woodland.

24. Burrowing Owl

The Burrowing Owl is a uncommon sight in Arizona’s open areas. The burrows it makes use of are both dug by itself or occupied beforehand by prairie canine or floor squirrels.

This owl is nocturnal but in addition forages throughout the day for bugs and small rodents.

The vastness of the prairies makes it troublesome to identify these owls, that are comparatively small.

They like to perch on prime of a small mound and search for meals from above.

25. Western Screech-Owls

Regardless of being native to open forests, Western Screech-Owls have tailored nicely to city environments and are actually widespread sights in massive gardens, parks, and even golf programs.

One of the best ways to identify these birds, which breed in tree holes, is to pay attention for his or her distinctive collection of quickly growing hoots.

These owls are recurrently seen all 12 months lengthy in Arizona. Worms, rodents, and bugs are simply among the many small animals that make up their diverse food plan.

Placing up nest packing containers in your yard is an effective way to draw Western Screech-Owls, as these birds readily settle for synthetic nesting holes.

26. Northern Pygmy Owl

Arizona is house to the smallest owl on this planet, the Northern Pygmy Owl.

Regardless of its diminutive measurement, this hen is a fierce predator that ceaselessly brings in prey twice its measurement, together with songbirds.

When it’s daytime, this owl is at its only for searching.

It likes to take a seat in a secret spot after which bolt if a songbird comes too shut.

There’s a widespread perception that if songbirds see a Pygmy Owl, they may mob it till it offers up and goes flying.

Observing flocks of mobbing songbirds is a surefire technique to find Northern Pygmy Owls, which may in any other case be troublesome to identify.

27. Brief-eared Owl

Though the Brief-eared Owl doesn’t breed in Arizona, it’s a widespread sight within the state throughout non-breeding months.

Not like different owls, Brief-eared Owls ceaselessly hunt throughout the day.

This, along with the truth that they hunt by swooping low over the bottom in open areas, makes them simple to identify.

These owls are widespread in Arizona’s large open areas, corresponding to farms, airports, and deserted fields.

28. Noticed Owl

Noticed Owl
Noticed Owl

Since their most well-liked habitat, old-growth forest, has been declining all through its vary in North America, these owls have gotten rarer and rarer.

The Mexican Noticed Owl is amongst three distinct species of the Noticed Owl present in North America, and it may be present in Arizona.

This owl is difficult to identify as a result of its vary is so fragmented throughout the Grand Canyon State.

The hooting calls of those owls are a dependable technique to inform them other than different owl species, simply as they’re for a lot of different owls.

It consumes small mammals like different owls do, with a choice for flying squirrels and woodrats.


Probably the most frequent raptors in Arizona are described above.

There are greater than 500 sorts of birds that decision Arizona’s dry panorama house, and lots of of them are raptors.

Of their capability as prime predators, birds of prey like hawks, eagles, falcons, vultures, and owls are indispensable.

Raptors play an important position in regulating populations of rodents and different small mammals, they usually additionally support within the decomposition of animal carcasses by way of scavenging.


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