The Harris's hawk has been given its name by the artist John James Audubon who named the bird for his friend Edward Harris. 

There are three subspecies of Harris's Hawk.

Parabuteo unicinctus unicinctus is found exclusively in South America. It is smaller than the North American subspecies.

Parabuteo unicinctus harrisi is found in Texas, eastern Mexico and much of Central America. Parabuteo unicinctus harrisi is sometimes known as the Bay-winged hawk.

Parabuteo unicinctus superior is found in Baja California, Arizona, Sonora, and Sinaloa.

In 1960 Frank Lyman Beebe drew the attention of southwestern American falconers to the possible use of this species. Two decades later, Harris's hawks had been given a fair trial and credit must be given to those American falconers who pioneered in training this species. The Harris' hawks are the most remarkable of all contemporary contributions to falconry.




While Harris's hawks closly resembles goshawks in measurements, weight, and proportions, the similarity ends there. Everything else about them is different: colour, appearance, and behaviour. The vast majority have an exceptional good temperament. They respond extremely well to socializing and are very easy to train. This has made Harris' hawks the most successful and reliable of all hawks in contemporary falconry.

Harris's hawks are gregarious. They live in family groups, hunting together in the manner of pack animals. At all times, they seem to recognize other Harris's hawks as being of their own kind and they seldom show either jealousi or aggression toward strange individuals. They are accordingly the safest of all hawks to fly in groups. When Harris' hawks hunt as a pack they look for and expect assisstance following a strike on large quarry. Perhaps they become extremely courageous in attacking large quarry because they quickly learn assistance is always forthcoming.

'When it comes to teamwork, Harris hawks make lions look like a bunch of amateurs' says an American falconer from Arizona 

The young from the previous year will stay with their parents to watch, observe and assist with feeding the following year's brood. The social nature of Harris' hawks is so sophistcated that they have stronger bonds to their human companion than to their territory. Following unsuccessful flights, Harris's hawks become as concerned with locating and returning to their human partner as the human is concerned with finding the hawk. It is said that Harris' hawks can be flown without transmitter. Personally I think, this should not take place.

Some American falconers have experienced that Harris's hawks have an instinctive hatred of coyotes, a natural competitor in their desert environment. It seems this intense desire to eliminate a competitor is transferred to strange dogs. Although, my Harris's hawks have a very good relationship to our Leonberger and are totally indifferent to other dogs, it is a problem I have to pay attention to.

The Harris's hawk is a very important bird in falconry due to its intelligence, versatility and adaptability.