Spirit The Hawk Home Page

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Spirit was hatched in April of 1999 to a private breeder and has lived at Zoo Atlanta since October of that same year.

He works in an average of 250 Zoo Atlanta programs each year as an ambassador for his species.

He weighs approximately 2 pounds and is dark brown in color, with auburn patches on his wing. Harris Hawks are carnivores, primary diet consisting of mice, rats, quail, chicken and bird of prey diet. They can live 20-25 years in captivity, only 3-4 in the wild due to food availability, disease, pesticides and injury.

Harris hawks reside in semi-open habitats. They range in the United States primarily from southern Arizona through New Mexico and into central Texas.

Feeding: Fast-flying hunters, Harris hawks swoop from a perch to catch desert rodents, reptiles and birds during the summer. During winter months they focus on the cooperative hunting of rabbits. Harris hawks cooperatively hunt in groups like wolves.

Reproduction: Pairing is variable, but many times a female will mate with two males. Often several other birds will assist with the hunting and nesting efforts. The primary male, and often the secondary male, are allowed to feed the nestlings along with the alpha female. After 43-49 days, the young hawks fledge and fly for the first time.

Fun Facts:

  • Harris hawks have been observed doing what scientists call "backstanding." One bird stands on another bird's back, and a third may stand on top of the other two. Scientists do not know why this is done, but it could be to get a better hunting view!

  • Harris hawks are among the most popular falconry birds in North America due to their cooperative nature!

  • The Harris hawk and Harris sparrow were both named by John James Audubon in honor of his good friend, Edward Harris!