Meet Hawkmoth

Harris Hawk
September 17, 2021

Our Ambassador Animals Team is still getting to know Hawkmoth and his personality. Check out fun facts about his species below!

  • Harris hawks are native to the southwestern U.S. and northwestern Mexico. They may be found in a variety of habitats, from deserts with saguaros and mesquite cacti to woodlands in the Colorado River Valley.
  • These are large hawks with long tails and broad wings. They are usually chocolate brown with reddish sections on the shoulders, wings, and leg feathers, with some white on their tails. Harris hawks are sometimes referred to as “bay-winged hawks” because of their coloration.
  • Harris hawks are carnivores. Their diet includes rodents, birds, small reptiles, and rabbits.
  • Harris hawks are nicknamed the “wolves of the sky” for their habit of hunting in groups, usually made up of a female and multiple males. Hunting together helps them take down larger prey such as rabbits.
  • These hawks are sometimes seen doing a behavior called “stacking.” With stacking, one hawk will land on the soft part of a cactus, another hawk will stand on that hawk’s back, and another will stand on top of that one. They will stack up to three birds high!
  • Harris hawks live about 14 years in the wild but can live up to 25 years in a zoological setting.
  • The species is not currently threatened in the wild, but Harris hawks do face challenges from habitat destruction or disruption and threats from power lines.

“Hawkmoth” is the winning name in our Name the Harris Hawk Contest!

Kids ages 13 and under were invited to help us name this exciting new arrival! The contest opened February 3, 2022, and continued through February 21, 2022.

“The Princess and the Hawk” was the winning story selected from more than 90 entries from children ages 13 and under in our Name the Harris Hawk Contest. The story was submitted by Harrison and Caroline Elliott, ages 6 and 4, of Dacula, Georgia. The contest winners will enjoy four general admission tickets to Zoo Atlanta and an exclusive encounter with an ambassador bird.

In addition to our contest winners, we recognize four Honorable Mentions and their associated hawk names and stories:

  • Hawkward,” the story of a bullied hawk who finds friends in an unlikely place, submitted by Cate Williams, age 9;
  • Ember,” the story of a hawk and his friends who want to celebrate Taco Tuesday on a Friday, submitted by Aslan Wiggins, age 10;
  • Spotter,” a heroic tale of the smallest of hawks being able to save the day, submitted by Rhea Menon, age 13; and
  • Chocolate,” the tale of a hawk who tasted bad to sharks, submitted by August Roberts, age 4.

Our Honorable Mentions will be featured on Zoo Atlanta’s social networks in coming weeks, so please stay tuned!

Full Contest Rules

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