Harris's Hawk

Overall satisfaction


Acquired: Worked with pet (didn’t own)

Gender: Female



Friendly with owner


Friendly with family






Song-vocal quality


Mimics sounds-words




Easy to feed


Easy to clean and maintain habitat


The quintessential beginner's bird, the "wolf of the sky"


United States

Posted Aug 10, 2015

The Harris' hawk is one of my favorite raptors, as they're the only birds of prey that have figured out that hunting in groups may help catch prey. They are extremely intelligent, devising brilliant plans to deceive and ambush their prey. Sometimes, falconers train their Harris hawks to hunt in unison - and a pack of trained Harris hawks working together, with falconers below flushing out prey, is perhaps the most formidable and terrifying sight a rabbit or squirrel will ever see.

Not only do they have brilliant minds, these hawks have a striking appearance and beautiful plumage. Their rufus, rusty-red wings are beautiful in flight, and this is part of the reason that Harris hawks are the raptor most widely used for presentations. They are far easier to train then other birds, mostly due to their sociability and intelligence. They are the most widely-used hawk in the West. However, there are some disadvantages mixed in with the abundant benefits. Harris hawks are not very good hunters alone - nor are they good anythings alone. They are not as agile, powerful, or fast as other raptors. In the wild, they make up for this with intelligence and teamwork, which allows them to take prey larger than themselves, but if you don't know anyone who has a Harris hawk, it will be difficult for your hawk to catch as much as it would if it hunted in groups. Also, my Harris hawk was somewhat languid and depressed, and I think it may be partly because these hawks are social animals, and my hawk was solitary.

The Harris Hawk is now widely regarded as the paragon of the beginner's bird in falconry. This does not mean they are good “pets”. Training and experience is still needed. They can still be aggressive, but if trained sufficiently, are extremely rewarding and will even fly with other Harris hawks.

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