Animal Ally Series: Hawk

The word "Hawk" tends to bring up images of several different types of predatory birds, including accipiters, kites, and falcons. For this post, we'll be talking about the broader winged hawks in the genus Buteo. This genus includes Red-Tailed Hawks, Red-Shouldered Hawks, Rough-Legged Hawks, and Broad-Winged Hawks.

Fast Facts

  • Buteos are the more commonly seen hawk and usually feature broad wings perfect for soaring, a heavier build than the accipiters, and live closer to the edge of the forest and into the open. These are the hawks you'll most likely see spinning in circles in the sky, or sitting conspicuously in a tree, watching for prey below.
  • Buteos are raptors, or birds of prey, which means they only eat live animals. Some may scavenge on carcasses, but for the most part, they're after mice, squirrels, voles, snakes, and other prey, depending on the size of the bird.
  • They're often referred to as "buzzards," as are vultures, because Europeans brought over the word that they use for hawks and applied it to ours. Hawks, however, are much smaller than vultures.
 Red-Tailed Hawks, painting by John James Audubon.

Red-Tailed Hawks, painting by John James Audubon.

Hawks deliver messages

While eagles take messages from us to the spirit world, hawks deliver messages to us from the ethers. Often, that message is just "Hey! Pay attention!" and sometimes it's more than that. Red-Tailed Hawks, for example, soar high in the sky, often spinning in wide circles. Their upward spiral and long cry make us lift our attention to the sun and sky realms.

Red-Shouldereds, on the other hand, stay closer to the ground in the canopy, and shake us out of our stupor with their piercing call. A hawk call is a wonderful thing to get to know, so that when you hear it, you can hear them shouting, "Wake up, wildling! Pay attention!"

Hawks teach us about vision

Similar to other birds of prey, a hawk's eye features two points of focus (ours have only one point of focus). This allows them to "zoom in" on prey while they're flying above, or "zoom out" to get a wider panorama of the landscape. A hawk's message is often one of perspective: are you too close to the situation? Are you too far away from the important details? Hawk helps us readjust our focus and vision to get to the heart of a matter. Sometimes we don't even realize we're too close until we let go of a situation for a little while and get perspective by being away from it.

Hawks are bold and strong

Like all other birds of prey, hawks are bold animals that trust in their own confidence. They know those talons on the end of their legs are deadly, and they're remarkably strong animals. They hunt with a fierceness that we as humans have been marveling at for generations, which is why hawks, falcons, and even eagles are still used as falconry birds around the world.


 Red-Shouldered Hawks, painting by John James Audubon.

Red-Shouldered Hawks, painting by John James Audubon.

To summarize, the Buteo hawks teach us about:

  • paying attention to what's going on within and without
  • re-focusing
  • gaining perspective by zooming out to see the big picture
  • zooming in to focus on important details
  • trusting in our own strength
  • being bold and fierce, even if we don't feel like we can be

Hawks are a ubiquitous favorite across the planet for their boldness and piercing calls. Let them in, and you'll start receiving their messages quickly!

I offer up these thoughts to the sacred hawk spirits in an honorable way and thank the bold visionaries for their teachings. It is good!

Thanks for reading and please share if you feel called to - everyone could use a little more animal ally in their lives. Did you learn something new today? Tell me in the comments!

Big love,