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Why Does A Hawk Screech? 3 Secrets Behind the Mysterious Screech

Hawks are the most common birds in deserts and open fields. So, it’s really not very usual to hear a hawk in town. 

Otherwise, you must have remembered a hawk with the infamous screeching vocals! Even if we haven’t seen a hawk in real, we remember the sound from any mystery or thriller movie! 

Have you ever wondered why does a hawk screech? If not, let’s find out today. Our guide will teach you the secret behind the screeching tone and other exclusive tips you haven’t yet known! 

Let’s figure it out! 

Why Does A Hawk Screech

Do You Know? 

  • Hawks belong to the family Accipitridae (Aves), they belong to the class Aves, where all birds do. 
  • They can see their prey several miles away. Hawks have exceptional eyesight! 
  • They are the master of the sky and can perform impressive stunts like barrel rolls and sharp turns. 
  • Mostly known as raptors, hawks also incorporate a diverse diet that includes rodents, birds, insects, and even fish. 
  • Hawks often fly silently, but they are not totally voiceless. They make different sounds. Screeching is one of them. 
  • A hawk can screech for a couple of reasons, which we will describe below. But the most common of them is to communicate with other birds. 
  • Only a few hawk species such as the Red-tailed hawks are monogamous. Others choose different mates for different seasons. 
  • They are solitary birds, and won’t hunt in packs unless they have to form a family or it’s survival hack.

Why Does A Hawk Screech? 

Hawks screech mostly to communicate with other hawks. Others are secondary but there are 3 primary reasons why a hawk must screech. If you are wondering, whether it is a mate call or territory occupancy, you are not wrong. 

Birds deliver the same voice tone to meet different purposes. Let’s discover the underlying reasons that describe why does a hawk screech. 

The Origin Point of A Hawk’s Screech: 

The Origin Point of A Hawk’s Screech

Before getting to the details, it’s essential to have a little background check. Where do hawks screech from? 

Birds don’t have vocal cords like other mammals. Specifically, we humans have a larynx that we use for communication. Hawks, like any other birds, generate sounds with a special vocal organ, it’s known as the Syrinx. 

It is located at the bottom of a hawk’s trachea. A hawk, like other birds, creates different calls and a high range of sounds including different vibrations. 

A hawk can make any sharp to shrewd screeches to softer calls using the Syrinx. It is an essential part of surviving and communicating with other birds. 

3 Major Reasons Why Does A Hawk Screech: 

Everything you guessed earlier is right. A hawk can screech to communicate with other birds or to possess a territory. In addition to that, there are some other reasons why a hawk might screech. We will tell you why, 

1) Communication Is the Key:

Communication Is the Key

One of the primary reasons hawks screech is to communicate with other hawks. Red-tailed hawks are monogamous and they mate for life. For them, screeching serves a special purpose to reinforce the bond. 

Both the male and the female have synchronized calls to communicate and coordinate their activities. The family can make a series of sounds to express to each other. Such as 

The mother hawk and the nestlings can chirp loudly if the man of the house is late with the food. The female often devotes her time in the nest to the hatchlings. 

The calls are also a signal of exposure to each other. It’s a way for them to tell, I’m here, and I’m ready to work together. They also make a unique rough screeching sound, similar to a scream. However, let’s keep it to the screeching for now. 

2) Hawks Are Territorial 

Hawks Are Territorial

Most birds of prey are territorial. They would go to any level to protect their home or feeding zone. Take owls for example

The Hawks are not exceptional. They are aggressively territorial, and defend their hunting and nesting territories vulgarly! 

The primary call to protect the territories is screeching. It plays an inevitable role when it comes to establishing dominance. 

You must have noticed a hawk hovering in the sky and screeching continuously. Well, that’s a proven fact that a male hawk often does this to ensure his selected ground remains untouched.

Mostly, when a hawk screeches, it’s often a warning to other hawks to stay away. It’s a faraway call to stake their claim and let others know they are not welcome. Ouch! 

3) It’s Danger

It’s also not unusual to screech when a hawk is in pain or injury. A professional bird expert and scientist Pat Gaines, has witnessed such an event where a Red-tailed hawk screeched when attacked by a kingbird at Bonny Lake State. 

It was the screeching sound of the hawk that alerted him first. Thus, he was able to take a remarkable photo of the kingbird! As reported by, the Denver Post. However, he did feel sorry for the hawk as it was bullied by something less than half its size. 

The wild nature may not be so kind to its living. Even though hawks are apex predators, they are also open to threats from other raptors and humans. The screeches are a cry for help, alerting other hawks and nearby wildlife.

Unique Calls of Different Hawks

This may not define the root cause of why hawks screech. The unique screeching of hawks can also work as an identifier to determine which species they belong to. 

There are over 250 species of hawks around the world, each with a unique tone of voice. The hawk’s screeching can help bird enthusiasts and ornithologists to identify which one they are. 

Such as the Sharp-shinned Hawk. They generate rapid, high-pitched calls, totally different from the slow and deep screeches of the Red-tailed Hawk.

Hear carefully and for a long time, you will also notice the difference in tone, pitch, and even the rhythm. It’s an essential clue for bird experts to identify between species, track the roots, and monitor how they behave.  

Do Hawks Screech at Night? 

Hawks are diurnal creatures. They remain active most of the day and rest at night. It is a common misconception that hawks are nocturnal birds due to their low light adaption. However, they are functional during the day and don’t hunt at night. 

They can see through the low light of dawn and dusk and mostly set out to hunt as soon as the sun rises. 

It is very unlikely for them to screech or make any noise when it’s night. It’s their time to sleep. If they do, it’s possible that they face threats or intruders! It will obviously be a warning call to the outsiders. 

Final Words

Creatures of the wild learn to survive by adapting to nature differently. They can’t communicate with words. Of course not, that’s silly! 

But they learned to express their need and different feelings such as anger, love, or dominance with different tones of voice. For hawks, screeching is one of them. 

Now, you know why does a hawk screech. But if you think, we missed out something, let us know in the comment section. We will be glad to participate. 

Also, you can share our article with others and help us grow too! We will come back soon with another article. 

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