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Do Hawks Stay In the Same Area? (And for How Long?)

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Hawks are patient animals and will stay in the same area for up to six hours while stalking prey. At the same time, they’re territorial and will stick around their nesting area most of the time. Some hawks are migratory though, leaving their nest during the winter.

Hawks are some of the most fascinating birds to watch. Their hunting skills and aerial acrobatics amaze bird watchers all over the world.

They’re territorial birds, and will typically do anything to fend off predators and intruders.

But do hawks stay in the same area that they’re trying to protect all the time, or do they migrate? How long do they stick around when stalking prey? And what about nesting?

Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions.

Do Hawks Stay In Same Area?

Hawks will stick around in an area when hunting. They’re very patient and can wait for several hours, usually no more than six though. They’ll also stay in their nesting area most of the time.

Since hawks are efficient in how they search for food, they do tend to stick in the same area if hunting remains successful. 

They’re patient creatures and can wait several hours until prey comes by. The only time a hawk might move is when hunting proves unsuccessful in the area they’re perching in.

When it comes to their nest, they typically don’t move around. Hawks tend to stay in the same area, and may even return to the same nesting ground year after year.

Flock of migratory hawk on tree branch

Why Do Hawks Stay In the Same Area?

Hawks will stick around in an area when they’re hunting, they’ll stay around their nest, and some hawks don’t even migrate, meaning they stay in the same area all year.

Hawks are some of the most well-known birds of prey. They are known to hunt both on the ground and in the air, allowing them to get their food from many different sources. 

Many hawks stay within one area throughout their lives, especially if hunting is successful.[1]

Hawks typically stay in the same area (for different time periods) when:

  • Defending their territory
  • Nesting and mating
  • They’re not migrating
  • Stalking prey
flock of hawks in a tree

Hawks Are Territorial Animals

The Red-Tailed Hawk is a bird found throughout the United States and southern Canada. It stays within a general area for most of its life, because it’s a territorial animal. 

This is not only true for the Red-tailed hawk, but for all hawks. They’ll stick around their territory to defend it from intruders.

Hawks are territorial animals for a variety of reasons:[2]

  • Hawks want to keep other hawks out of their territory
  • They want to protect their food sources
  • They want to protect their nest

Nesting & Mating Behavior

Hawks will stay around the same area when they’re nesting and mating. This is simply due to their maternal and paternal instincts.

These birds of prey form lifelong mating pairs, although they don’t live together, except during mating season. Most of the time, the hawks live in separate nests.

When they’re mating, they’re sticking around their nest. They don’t leave for long, as they need to keep their offspring safe from predators, and other dangers.

Both the female and male hawk is involved in raising the younglings.

Depending on the type of prey available in an area, hawks usually stay within a one- to two-mile radius of where they are nesting.

When They Don’t Migrate

Hawks often follow the cycle of migrating south when it is wintertime and moving north in the springtime. 

These migrations are usually attributed to cold weather and a lack of food. However, some hawks don’t migrate, as they live in areas where the temperature and food supply is sufficient all year round.

Hence, hawks that don’t migrate stay in the same area all their life.

There are many migratory hawk species. Some of the most common include:

  • Red-tailed Hawks[3]
  • Broad-winged Hawks[4]
  • Sharp-shinned Hawks[5]

Related: Do Hawks Migrate?

Hunting Behavior

Hawks stay in the same area when scouting for prey. They will perch in a tree for multiple hours, or soar in the sky, waiting for prey animals to reveal their location. 

Hawks have sharp eyesight and can see prey from far away. Hence, they don’t mind waiting in a single spot for hours while being completely silent and still.

When they see prey, they swoop down to the ground quickly, so their prey doesn’t have time to react.

Related: Do Hawks Hunt at Night?

a hawk on its nest

Do Hawks Stay In Same Area When Hunting?

Do hawks stay in the same area when hunting? Hawks can stay perched at a single place for hours while searching for prey. It is not unusual for large birds of prey to stay in one place for six or more hours.

Hawks are known for their ability to fly swiftly while hunting. What most people don’t know is, that they’re extremely patient as well.

They can locate prey from the air, dive on it at speeds greater than 200 miles per hour and strike with talons extended while moving about 30 miles per hour. 

Hence, while they may wait for hours to find suitable prey, they will take it out in a matter of minutes, if not seconds.

How Long Do Hawks Circle?

A hawk can spend hours in the air without needing to land.

Hawks are known for their circling habits, as they are able to fly in the same area without tiring themselves out. 

They are often seen doing this before swooping down to catch their prey.

The circling of a hawk is extremely efficient. The slow flapping of their wings allows them to stay aloft for hours without expending too much energy. They also make use of thermals (columns of rising air) to conserve energy.

Related: Why Do Hawks Circle Their Prey?

Flock of migratory hawk

Do Hawks Stay In Same Area When Nesting?

Yes, hawks do stay in the same general area when nesting. They don’t move their nest, unless it’s absolutely necessary, or if it’s destroyed by predators.

When it comes to hawks, most people picture them flying through the sky looking for prey, which is then carried back to their nests. And that is indeed the case.

But once they find a suitable nesting area, do they stay there?

The short answer is yes, hawks do stay in the same area when nesting[3]. Migratory hawks are even known to return to the same nesting area year after year. 

They’ll typically only move if they’re threatened by predators, if their nest is destroyed, or if any other external factors affect their nesting site.

Northern Goshawks

Do Hawks Return to the Same Nesting Site?

Many hawks return to the same nesting site for breeding every year. However, some may also choose the same nesting locations with the same mates, while others may find new partners in new locations each year.

Hawks are known to return to the same nesting sites year after year if the conditions are right:

  • They successfully raised younglings the year before.
  • There’s are high concentration of prey.
  • There’s a low concentration of predators.
  • Their mate is still alive.

If these criteria are met, hawks may very well return to the same site for several years.

Why Are Hawks Hanging Around My House?

Hawks typically hang around your house if there’s food around (typically in the yeard), or if they’ve nested in a tree on your property.

Have you ever noticed hawks hanging around your house? 

Well, not to worry. It’s very common for hawks to hang around homes. It has nothing to do with trouble or the intentions of the hawk which are misunderstood by many people. 

Let’s take a closer look at a few of the most common reasons why it happens.

There’s Food Around

The primary reason why hawks stick around in yards and near houses is because of food. People, especially those with pets, often have food in their yard that attracts hawks.

This can be small rodents, birds, insects, or other animals.

Hawks will typically stay away from humans, and won’t pose any danger – unless they’re threatened, or if you get too close to their nest.

hawk scavenging

They’ve Nested in Your Yard

If you start noticing hawks hanging around your yard several days in a row, there’s a good chance that they’ve nested in a tree nearby. 

Hawks typically build their nests up high in large trees, but if there aren’t any near your home, they may be nesting nearby, and simply visit your yard while scouting for food.

How to Get Rid of Hawks in the Area

There are many ways to get rid of hawks that don’t involve harming the birds or using chemicals.

One way to get rid of hawks is to create a hawk deterrent. Using motion-activated sprinklers or lights can be effective in scaring the birds away. 

There are also CDs that mimic the sounds of predators that scare hawks away when they are played. The sound disturbs the hawk and it will likely leave the area.

Another effective method is using an owl decoy. Hawks are afraid of owls, hence an owl statue may be just what you need.

Conclusion

It’s not uncommon for hawks to stick around in an area for several hours when looking for prey. Perched in a tree, or soaring in the sky, they can wait a long time before they strike.

Hawks also tend to stick around in areas close by their nest. They tend to keep within a few miles of their nest, especially during mating season.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Hawks Territorial?

Yes, hawks are territorial. While they often live alone or in pairs, they don’t socialize with other hawks. If they notice another hawk in their area, they will make screeching sounds to warn them about entering their territory.

In comparison with many insects though, ants have a much higher supercooling ability which allows them to tolerate lower freezing points.

About Kaitlin Mullins

Birds are plenty, and they can be hard to keep track of. Thankfully, Katilin Mullins has taken charge of these. With plenty of free time spent bird watching, she’s a true expert on these intriguing animals.

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