New Hampshire: State Bird

(Purple finch, Carpodacus purpureus)

What Is the Official State Bird of New Hampshire?

New Hampshire was one of the last states in the country to pick an official state bird. The official state bird of New Hampshire is the red-tailed hawk. This is a very large hawk with rounded wings, a short tail, and a wide body. From a distance, a lot of people mistake these birds for eagles. It is one of the most common birds found in New Hampshire, regardless of the temperature outside, which is why the residents of New Hampshire decided to pick this bird as the official state bird.

What Does the Red-Tailed Hawk Look Like?

The red-tailed hawk is usually one of the biggest birds in the sky. It usually has rich, dark brown feathers on its back. Then, its belly looks kind of pale. When it is circling overhead, it can make it hard for animals to spot in the sky because it may look like a small cloud. Sometimes, there is a dark streak of feathers underneath its shoulder. Its tail resembles the rest of the body. It typically has a light color on the bottom, but it has a cinnamon color on top. The coloration of the red-tailed hawk can change as birds get older. Younger red-tailed hawks usually have lighter feathers, but they get darker as they get older.

Typically, the red-tailed hawk is about 20 to 24 inches in length. It usually weighs 24 to 44 ounces, and it has a wingspan of about four feet when it is fully grown. Females are usually a little bit smaller than males.

Why Did New Hampshire Pick the Red-Tailed Hawk?

New Hampshire was one of the last states in the country to pick an official state bird. By that time, the vast majority of states had already selected one, and New Hampshire wanted to pick a bird that nobody else had selected yet. In addition, New Hampshire wanted to pick a bird that was representative of the state. Because the red-tailed hawk is a common sight, particularly throughout the forests of New Hampshire, the government decided to go with the red-tailed hawk.

When Did New Hampshire Pick the Red-Tailed Hawk?

New Hampshire did not select the red-tailed hawk to be its official state bird until 2019. The vast majority of states had already picked a state bird in the first half of the 20th century.

Where Does the Red-Tailed Hawk Live?

The vast majority of red-tailed hawks like to live in areas where there is a lot of open space to roam. That is why many red-tailed hawks like to circle over open fields. Typically, they hover over the ground, without flapping their wings. Their eyes are usually fixated on the ground, looking for prey. Then, when they see something, they descend into a dive with their wings and legs outstretched. While some people might confuse them with falcons, the red-tailed hawk is a much more common sight in New Hampshire.