Hawks, Eagles, and Falcons in Virginia

Virginia’s rich landscapes shape the lives of its hawks, eagles, and falcons. The northern harrier frequents marshes, while the bald eagle’s presence around waterways signifies conservation success. The urban-dwelling peregrine falcons and Cooper’s hawks living in the woodlands reflect the species’ adaptability.

Hawks Eagles and Falcons in Virginia (VA)

List of Different Types of Hawks, Eagles, and Falcons in Virginia


There are two types of eagles native to Virginia.

  • Bald Eagle
  • Golden Eagle

The bald eagles nest and live all through the year in the state. They lay eggs in January-March. The golden eagles migrate through Virginia and may winter here.


  • Sharp-shinned Hawk
  • Cooper’s Hawk, 
  • Red-shouldered Hawk
  • Broad-winged Hawk
  • Red-tailed Hawk
  • Rough-legged Hawk
  • Ferruginous Hawk (Accidental)
  • Zone-tailed Hawk (Accidental)
  • Swainson’s Hawk (Accidental)
  • American Goshawk (Accidental)

The red-tailed hawk is the most common raptor in Northern Virginia. These large hawks can often be seen on long drives in the countryside, perched on a fence post or soaring in the sky. The Cooper’s hawk can be found in the forests of Northern Virginia. The largest in the state is the rough-legged hawk, and the smallest is the sharp-shinned hawk.



  • Osprey


  • Northern Harrier
  • Western Marsh Harrier (Accidental)

The fall hawk migration season starts in mid-August and extends through early December. Most hawks pass through Virginia in the last two weeks of September and the first two weeks of October. At that time, hundreds to thousands of migrating birds of prey can be observed daily from the Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch on the southern side of the Rockfish Gap. Apart from hawks, you can also watch streams of falcons, harriers, and ospreys.

The Chesapeake Bay has the most breeding bald eagles in the US outside of Alaska. The Potomac River between the Reagan National Airport and Route 301 bridge is a “bald eagle concentration area” due to abundant fish and shoreline trees – an ideal nesting habitat.

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