8 Hawks with White Chest [Powerful Birds with Awe-inspiring Beauty]

hawks with white chest

With over 20 species of hawks worldwide, they vary in appearance, behavior, and habitats. Among these stunning birds, few species possess a truly captivating trait of a white chest. 

This physical trait sets them apart from their feathered cousins and plays a vital role in their breeding. Read on to discover the eight stunning hawks with white chests.

The White-tailed Hawk (Geranoaetus albicaudatus)

White-tailed Hawk

The White-tailed Hawk is striking, with a white chest contrasting sharply with its dark brown feathers. It’s primarily found in Central and South America. 

It has a wingspan of up to 56 inches, up to 24 inches long, and weighs up to 2.7 lbs, making it a formidable predator that preys on small animals like lizards, snakes, and rodents.

The White-tailed Hawk has yellow legs and a distinctive hooked beak used to catch and kill its prey. 

These hawks are typically found in open areas like grasslands and savannas and often perch on high spots like trees and utility poles to scan the ground for prey.

Interesting Facts

  • The White-tailed Hawk eats its prey whole and regurgitates pellets of indigestible material like fur and bones in 1 to 2 days.
  • It’s a solitary bird and fiercely territorial. It defends its territory aggressively from other hawks and predators.

The White Hawk (Pseudastur albicollis)

white hawk

These hawks have pure white heads, chests, and bodies, contrasting beautifully with their dark wings and tail feathers. 

The White Hawk is relatively large, with a wingspan of up to 38.5 to 46.3 inches, 18 to 20 inches long, and has a longer lifespan than most hawks.

These birds are primarily found in South America but occasionally migrate north to Central America and Mexico during winter.

The White Hawk prefers to inhabit open woodland areas and savannas for effective hunting. You can also spot it in urban areas like parks and golf courses. 

These hawks primarily feed on small mammals such as rabbits, squirrels, rodents, reptiles, giant insects, and small birds like Blue Jays that mimic them.

Interesting Facts

  • White Hawks mate for life and build their nests in trees using sticks and leaves.
  • It’s famous for its aerial acrobatics, soaring high in the sky and performing complex maneuvers to catch its prey.
  • The White Hawk also steals prey from other birds of prey, making it a fierce competitor in the skies.

The Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo Regalis)

Ferruginous Hawk

The Ferruginous Hawk is the most aggressive and prominent in the Buteo family. It’s found in North America and Canada’s grasslands, prairies, and urban areas.

You can identify it by its striking white chest and distinctive rust-colored plumage on its back and legs.

This hawk has a diverse diet, including rodents, ground squirrels, jackrabbits, prairie frogs, snakes, and other birds, such as pheasants and meadowlarks.

Interesting Facts

  • Ferruginous Hawks are gentle despite their aggressiveness, and you can observe them nurturing and protecting their young with great care.
  • During the breeding season, the Ferruginous Hawk builds its nest on trees, rocky outcroppings, and cliffs using sticks, debris, and cow dung.
  • Most birdwatchers might mistake Ferruginous Hawk for a Bald Eagle due to its size and behavior. 
  • In Native American folklore, the Ferruginous Hawk symbolizes strength, endurance, and protection.

The Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis)

Northern Goshawk

The Northern Goshawk has a distinct white chest, dark-stale grey plumage, sharp talons, and incredible speed when hunting prey. 

They’re found throughout the Northern Hemisphere, including North America, Europe, and Asia.

They prefer living and hunting in heavily wooded areas, such as coniferous forests, but they can also adapt to urban environments.

These hawks prey on small mammals like rabbits, squirrels, and other birds, such as grouse and pigeons.

Interesting Facts

  • Northern Goshawks are often called “ghosts of the forest” because of their silent flight and elusive nature.
  • They have aggressive behavior, especially during nesting season. They fiercely defend their territory and offspring.
  • They’re one of the few hawk species that can thrive in urban and rural areas. 
  • Their adaptability and hunting prowess make them an impressive hawk species to observe.

The Black-and-white Hawk Eagle (Spizaetus melanoleucus)

Black-and-white Hawk Eagle

The Black-and-white Hawk Eagle is a striking bird of prey native to the neotropical region of Central and South America. 

It’s around  23 inches long, weighs 1.8 lbs, with a  wingspan of up to 43 inches, making it one of the most prominent hawks with a white chest.

This hawk prefers to live in undisturbed forests with dense canopies and tall trees where it can hunt and nest in peace.

Unlike other hawks that primarily hunt smaller prey, the Black-and-white Hawk Eagle targets larger prey such as monkeys, sloths, and even porcupines. 

Their powerful talons and sharp beak enable them to capture and kill their prey quickly and efficiently.

Interesting Facts

  • It has a distinct, piercing call often used to communicate with other hawks and to establish territory boundaries.
  • The Black-and-white Hawk Eagle is an apex predator in its ecosystem and has few natural predators.

The White-tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus)

White-tailed Kite

The White-tailed Kite is a small, slender raptor with a striking white chest that’s hard to miss. It’s found in North and South America and other parts of the Southwest and Mexico.

They primarily have gray plumage, with white feathers on their head, underparts, and the tips of their wings.

They’re 14.5 long and weigh 0.6 lbs, with a wingspan of 40 inches, making them one of the smallest hawks.

White-tailed Kites are typically found in open grasslands, marshes, and agricultural areas where they can find prey. 

These hawks feed on other birds and small mammals, such as rodents, reptiles, and giant insects.

Interesting Facts

  • They’re considered “hover-hunters” and often hover in the air, using their keen eyesight to locate prey on the ground.
  • They’re famous for their communal nesting behavior, with several pairs nesting in the same area.
  • Their narrow and pointed wings make them expert fliers capable of maneuvering quickly when hunting. 

The Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus axillaris)

Black-shouldered Kite

The black-shouldered kite is a stunning raptor in North and South America, Australia, and southern Africa. 

Black-shouldered kites prefer various habitats, including open grasslands, agricultural fields, woodland edges, and coastal regions. 

Its striking white chest, which stands out against its dark gray back and wings, makes this hawk unique. It typically measures around 14 inches long with a wingspan of 32 inches.

Their primary diet consists of small mammals, reptiles, and insects, and occasionally prey on birds. 

Interesting Facts

  • The Black-shouldered Kite performs elaborate aerial courtship displays, which include high-speed chases and acrobatic movements.
  • Its hunting style involves hovering and scanning the ground for small rodents and insects.
  • Black-shouldered kites are monogamous and build their nests in trees, shrubs, or utility poles.
  • They have distinctive vocalizations ranging from soft chirps to harsh screams when they feel threatened.

The Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)

The Osprey, also known as the sea hawk, fish hawk, or river hawk, is a majestic bird of prey easily recognizable by its striking white chest and dark brown wings. 

These hawks are 20 to 26 inches long and weigh 2 to 4.6 lbs with a wingspan of 50 to 71 inches.

Ospreys are found worldwide, usually in coastal areas, and are considered one of the best fish hunters in the bird world.

In addition to fish, Ospreys also eat small mammals, reptiles, and other birds, especially near water sources.

Interesting Facts

  • They hunt by hovering over the water until they spot a fish, then dive straight into the water to grab it with their powerful talons.
  • They have a reversible outer toe that allows them to grasp prey with two toes in front and two toes in the back.
  • Ospreys can migrate thousands of miles each year, traveling from North America to South America and back again.

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