Fun Chicken Hawk Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Jan 16, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Yashvee Patel
Chicken hawk facts talk about Cooper's Hawk.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.8 Min

If you want to read about one of the most interesting categories of birds, then you must read about the chicken hawk. Chicken hawk is the common moniker given to three types of hawks that share similar characteristics. These three hawks are the sharp-shinned hawk, the red-tailed hawk, and cooper's hawk with the red-tailed hawk being the biggest amongst the three. However, interestingly, despite being named chicken hawks, these three types of hawks have hardly ever been observed to prey on chickens. The name chicken hawk is not used scientifically anymore due to this reason but it still enjoys widespread colloquial usage. Known to be fierce predators, the young ones of these hawks are known to be hunted by crows and owls. While it wouldn't really mean anything symbolic to see these hawks, they are majestic creatures when in flight. So read on for more information on them. You can also check out the nuthatch and the black vulture.

Chicken Hawk Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a chicken hawk?

A chicken hawk, one of the three species of North American hawk, is one of the famous birds of prey.  

What class of animal does a chicken hawk belong to?

The chicken hawk belongs to the class of Aves.

How many chicken hawks are there in the world?

All three species of these hawks are found in abundance all over the North American continent. However, we do not have any concrete date as to how many chicken hawks are there in the world.

Where does a chicken hawk live?

The three species of birds are found mostly in North American countries like the USA, Mexico, and Canada, with one species being found in areas of South America. They prefer living in temperate forests and grasslands with open woodlands being one of the other common habitats.

What is a chicken hawk's habitat?

These hawks are known to have the second-highest breeding range for any diurnal birds, just above the American kestrels, in the region. Chicken hawks have become an increasingly common sight in urban areas such as in buildings and other places. This is especially true for the red-tailed hawk and cooper's hawk.

Who do chicken hawks live with?

Hawks are not known for being birds who travel in groups. They are usually solitary in nature and this is true for all three types of chicken hawks. Chicken hawks, like the red-tailed chicken hawk and cooper's chicken hawk, are very territorial in nature and can be extremely hostile toward other hawks in their vicinity. However, the only time these hawks can be seen flying together when the male and the female hawks are mating.

How long does a chicken hawk live?

The average lifespan across the three species ranges from three to eight years. However, the red-tailed hawk and the cooper's hawk are known to live for more than 20 years in the wild.

How do they reproduce?

The male and female chicken hawks are known to be monogamous in nature. While being a quiet bird all throughout the year, a chicken hawk is especially vocal during the breeding season. They send out mating calls. Sometimes, sky dances also take place during the courtship period. A copulation between the hawks is known to last for up to 10 seconds. Once the mating is done, the incubation period in all three types of chicken hawks lasts for at least 30 days. During this time, both the male and female look for a perfect nesting site and makes a nest with twigs and other materials. After this, the female raptors give birth to clutches of eggs. The mean size of these egg clutches in all three hawk types has been observed to vary between one and eight eggs with the average being four or five eggs.

What is their conservation status?

According to the report from the International Union For Conservation Of Nature, the three species have all been listed as of Least Concern on their Red List. This is due to the fact that the birds are found in abundance all over the United States and Canada.

Chicken Hawk Fun Facts

What do chicken hawks look like?

Chicken Hawk

The three types of chicken hawks are known for their distinct physical features. The cooper's hawks have squarish heads along with thick and long toes and legs. The wingspan is medium in size in these hawks. Their tail is shaped like a wedge along with a hooked bill that is very helpful in the hunting and tearing of prey. This hooked bill feature is shared by all three types of chicken hawks. When in flight, the cooper's hawk wings have been observed to give the effect of the bird being small due to its relative length when compared with the longish tail.

The red-tailed hawk can also be easily identified by the most unique feature of the bird: the red tail. Another interesting feature of this red-tailed bird is its short bill. However, the head of the red-tailed hawk can be small when compared with the thick and muscular body. These red-tailed hawks are known to be the biggest birds in North America after the ferruginous hawks.

On the other hand, the Sharp-shinned hawk is a much smaller bird when compared to the two other birds of prey classified under the chicken hawk category. These smaller hawks get their names from their slender and long legs along with the customary hooked bill. Despite being a smaller bird of prey, it is known to tear feathers off its prey.

The plumage of the hawks varies with its subspecies but the most common feather color is brown-gray, blue-gray, and tawny. They also have white plumage on the underside of their body. They go through a change of plumage color through the process of molting.

How cute are they?

On the question of cuteness, chicken hawks will not really rank high in our humble opinion. Known more for their majestic features such as the long wings, we would term chicken hawks majestic rather than cute. However, some of you just might term this bird to be very cute.

How do they communicate?

Chicken hawks communicate with each other via different types of vocalizations. Cooper's hawks have around four different call variations that can be separated based on their pitch and tempo. The variations in call become more significant during the breeding season. The red-tailed hawk has gained notoriety due to its fierce and loud screaming cry. Most of their cries are heard when they are in flight or as a warning to enemies. Apart from this, chicken hawk sounds have also been recorded between the two breeding pairs and between a mother hawk and a child hawk.

How big is a chicken hawk?

The chicken hawk size is prone to variations due to many subspecies amongst the three types of hawks in this category. Yet, a standard measured can be reached for the three types. The Red-tailed Hawk measures anywhere between 18 to 26 in (46-66 cm) with a wingspan that may go up to the length of 60 in (152 cm). On the other hand, cooper's hawks are smaller than their red-tailed counterparts. They have an average length of 14 to 19 in (35.5-48 cm)  with a wingspan that can range between 24 in (61 cm) and  42 in (107 cm). The sharp-shinned ones are the smallest of the lot and they have an average length of 9 to 15 in (23-38 cm)   with the wingspan going up to 30 in (76 cm). In comparison, these hawks are around the same size as that of an average vulture which is 24 in (61 cm) in size.

How fast can a chicken hawk fly?

The speeds of these hawks may vary from around 54mph to 118mph. Obviously, being the larger amongst the three types, the red-tailed hawk has the highest speed of 118mph.

How much does a chicken hawk weigh?

All the types of chicken hawks show sexual dimorphism. The female hawks are relatively larger and heavier than their male counterparts. Yet, like their length, there is a considerable difference in weight between the three types. The red-tailed hawk has a weight of 1.5-3 lb (0.6-1.3 kg), while cooper's hawk can weigh between 0.6-1.2 lb (0.2-0.5 kg). Being the smallest in the group, Sharp-shinned Hawks have a small average weight of 0.1-0.5 lb (0.04-0.2 kg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

Male chicken hawks are called tiercels while female chicken hawks were called formels before being known simply as hens.

What would you call a baby chicken hawk?

Young chicken hawks are simply known as hatchlings or chicks.

What do they eat?

Due to being carnivores, chicken hawks are known to consume rodents, smaller birds, lizards, squirrels, frogs, snakes. Interestingly, despite being called chicken hawks, these hawks hardly ever prey on chickens.

Are they aggressive?

Hawks are known for being territorial and aggressive and chicken hawks are no different.

Would they make a good pet?

Hawks are better left in the wild on their own and we would not recommend them as a pet option for you because they just might attack other pets such as dogs.

Did you know...

The red-tailed hawk known as the 'pale male' from Manhattan is quite famous, with even a book being written on it.

Armstrong the chicken hawk was a character on Jim Henson's Animal Show.

In 'Looney Tunes', there is a chicken hawk song sung between the characters Hemery Hawk and Foghorn Leghorn.

What does a chicken hawk sound like?

Chicken hawks are known to make varied sounds. An adult red-tailed hawk is known to make sounds such as sheeeeee, tsee-eeee-arrr, or kree-eee-ar. Cooper's hawk has a harsh sound that goes somewhat like keh-keh-keh.

How many species of chicken hawk are there?

There are three types of chicken hawks. They are the cooper's hawk, the sharp-shinned hawk, and the red-tailed hawk.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including the yellow warbler and the rufous hummingbird.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our chicken hawk coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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