So, you spot a nest made of sticks in a tree on your property, and you discover large birds flying to and from the nest. You want to identify the birds that built and are using the nest, and your initial guess is that it belongs to a hawk family. But how can you know for sure? What does a hawk’s nest look like? Keep reading! In this article, we’ll answer this and other questions you may have regarding hawk nesting habits.
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How Do You Identify a Hawk’s Nest?
A hawk’s nest is fairly easy to spot and identify. It is typically made of sticks and situated in the crook of a tall tree.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a hawk’s nest looks strikingly similar to an eagle’s nest, but it’s significantly smaller. Not only is the overall design of the nest smaller than an eagle’s but hawks also use smaller sticks to construct the nest–the sticks are typically no more than 1 to 2 inches in diameter.
Though most hawk’s nests are built in trees, some hawks may also build nests on tall cliffs, billboards, and other high places. Occasionally, they will even build nests on the ground, depending on the hawk species and the region in which it lives.
Though most people will never get close enough to a hawk’s nest to inspect the inside (and we would always recommend keeping your distance to avoid their attacks), anyone who does will find that the nest bowl is lined with softer materials such as tree bark, pine needles, and corn husks. Hawk nests are often deeper than they are wide.
Sometimes the best way to identify a particular nest is to watch for the birds that fly to and from the nest. If you can identify the bird as a hawk, then you will know that it’s a hawk’s nest.
What Kinds of Trees Do Hawks Nest In?
Hawks don’t seem to have a preference for the types of trees they use for nest building; they may use both evergreen and deciduous trees. Regardless of the specific type of tree, the one chosen for nest building will usually be taller than the other trees in the area.
Sometimes hawks choose dead trees that are still strong enough to support a nest, but usually the trees will be alive. Some species of hawk may build their nests as high as 90 to 100 feet up, as they like to have a good view of the surrounding area.
Each season, hawks may build new nests or reuse old ones; it depends on the species and the condition of the nest, as well as the condition of the nest tree.
What Time of Year Do Hawks Lay Their Eggs?
Hawks may lay their eggs at slightly different times of the year depending on their native region and species. They usually lay their eggs in spring, but in some cases they may lay them earlier or later–anywhere from late winter to early summer.
The best way to find out about hawks and their egg-laying patterns is to observe the hawks in your area. You may be able to do this by visiting a local nature preserve or asking local wildlife experts to find out what is normal where you live.
As you might imagine, a hawk’s nesting activities begin a month or two before eggs are laid–or possibly sooner if it is building a new nest. Hawk pairs will generally work together, adding sticks and other materials to the nest, cleaning out the bowl, and preparing it for a new batch of eggs.
Check out the following video of a Cooper’s hawk building a nest.
What Do You Call a Baby Hawk?
Baby hawks may be called several different names.
The technical term for any young hawk or falcon is eyas. This term generally applies to baby hawks still living in the nest that have not fledged yet and are still being fed by parents.
For the more casual observer, baby hawks may also be called hatchlings or chicks, or even hawklets.
Where Does a Hawk Sleep at Night?
During nesting season, some hawks will sleep in the nest, while others will perch on close by to keep an eye on the nest and the surrounding area.
Both males and females incubate the eggs and care for the young, but the females spend the most time in the nest. The female hawk will stay with the eggs and young at night while the male perches in a tree or some other high point nearby.
When not sleeping in the nest, hawks will typically choose high perches such as utility poles, tall trees, or the roofs of tall buildings. They don’t necessarily look for areas with a lot of shelter or cover to keep them out of sight; for hawks, the most important consideration when choosing a perch is that they are up high.
Hawks build nests that look similar to eagle’s nests, only smaller. They use small to medium-sized sticks to construct the body of the nest, then line the bowl with materials such as bark, corn husks, and pine needles to make it softer.
Hawks typically build their nests high up in tall trees, where they will have a good view of the surrounding area. Some hawk nests may be found as much as a hundred feet above the ground.