Why Do Hawks Circle?

Are there hawks in your area? If yes, then you must have seen hawks flying in circles. If you wait there for a few minutes, you will see other hawks joining and circling in large groups. When I saw this for the first time, I was like, “what are you guys doing?” If you have ever wondered why do hawks circle, then this article is for you.

Well, there are several reasons why hawks can circle. One is to find warm wind currents known as thermals, which help them to stay in the air for a long time spending minimum energy. They also do it to observe their prey closely and get ready for an attack, when they want to impress the mate in the breeding season and to alert others and protect their territory.

In the rest of the article, I’ve explained in detail the reasons why hawks circle, why hawks scream loudly while circling, and much more. So, stay tuned till the end if you don’t want to be bewildered the next time you see hawks circling.

Why Do Hawks Circle? Answered In Detail

As told in the intro, hawks can circle because of certain reasons. 

Let’s analyze those reasons thoroughly.

1. To Get The Most Of The Thermals

Firstly, hawks circle in the high to get thermals.

Now, what does it mean?

Well, as the sun rises during the day, it begins to heat the air gradually from the upper layers. When it happens, the hot wind starts to rise upwards. Just like warm air rises from boiling water. This natural phenomenon is known as thermals or warm wind currents.

See, when hawks fly by flapping wings, it consumes a lot of energy. So, they just spread their wings and let thermals keep them in the air. This helps them and other large flying creatures to stay in the air longer by spending less energy.

2. To Look For Prey

Secondly, using thermals, hawks circle to scan an area in search of prey. If there is any available food source, hawks will circle upon it and calculate whether it would be a successful catch or not. Actually, they don’t want to lose their valuable energy on an unsuccessful hunt.

3. While Mating

Thirdly, you will see hawks circling while looking for mates. In breeding season, hawks display aerial acrobatics to express that they are ready for breeding. To impress their mate, they make wide circles and screech highly.

Finally, when they pair up, they will circle together and fly high.

4. To Protect Their Territory

Finally, hawks circle to protect their territory and food source. Hawks are very possessive when it comes to their territory. If there is any uninvited guest, hawks will circle and shout highly to claim their territory until the opponent doesn’t back off.

Why Do Hawks Circle in Large Groups?

Why Do Hawks Circle in Large Groups
Image Credit: Skyler Ewing, Canva

Though hawks prefer to stay alone, it’s not surprising to see a large group of hawks circling. In fact, most of us are familiar with this scenery. Right?

Here the question arises, why do hawks circle in large groups?

Well, once a hawk finds a good thermal and starts to ride well, other hawks nearby will start to join. Eventually, all the hawks in that area will come up and start circling in large groups.

However, during mating and migrating seasons, some hawk species stay in a large group. During this time, hundreds of hawks circles in thermals together. This scene is considered the best sight for a bird watcher.

Why Do Hawks Scream Loudly While Circling?

Why Do Hawks Scream Loudly While Circling
Image Credit: RosalinaLorien, Canva

Hawks scream while circling to warn any unwanted visitor of their presence and defend their territory. However, male hawks also do it during mating season to impress their mate.

When any hawk or other predator enters a local area, the existing hawks will scream and circle to assert their existence. It is a warning. If the opponent doesn’t back off, the hawk will attack it. They are very protective of their territory and food sources.

Hawks will scream and circle during mating seasons as well. Actually, male hawks that have a loud voice are considered desirable mates to female hawks. So, all the male hawks need to do this to impress female hawks.

Final Words

There are certain reasons for hawks circling.

The reasons are getting most of the thermals, looking for available food sources, impressing mates during mating seasons, and saving their territory and food source.

Sometimes, hawks circle in large groups, particularly in mating and migrating seasons. However, they can join large groups circling if they notice any hawk finding good thermals.

In some circumstances, hawks screech while circling while protecting their territory and impressing female mates. In hawks, high-piercing males are considered the strongest and most powerful.

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