How To Identify A Hawk Feather?
Easy Steps And Pictures!

How do you identify a Hawk? Hawks are known for their sharp eyes and powerful beaks. Read all about their enchanting feathers in this post.

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David A. Swanson

October 04, 2022

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What’s This Post About?

The bird family known as the Accipitridae includes several species which are recognized by their prominent feathers. The most notable example of a hawk is the red-tailed hawk, whose features are dark brown with a white stripe down its chest and tail.

The female red-tailed hawk is much smaller than the male, but both sexes feature prominent feathers around their chest and eyes.

Hawk’s feathers are not that difficult to identify. The feather should feel soft to the touch and must be puffy. A hawk’s feather is large, falling in between the range of 22-24 cm, with a barred pattern having a brown shade that may help you identify whether it’s a hawk’s feather or not.


Identifying a Hawk Feather - A Step-by-Step Guide with Pictures

There are many ways in which a hawk feather can be identified, but for simplicity’s sake, it is best to identify them by their physical attributes.

By physical attributes, it is meant that the feathers of a hawk are very different from other birds in terms of their shape and size. They are stiffer and have longer shafts that are much more rigid than other birds’ feathers.

The barbs are also arranged in smaller groups that are not organized in any distinct pattern on the feather.


Hawk feathers also have a curly appearance when they come out of the bird’s skin because they contain much more melanin than other birds. This makes them darker and more difficult to see against dark backgrounds. Read ahead to learn more about the art of identifying a Hawk’s feather!

How to Recognize a Hawk Feather?


Hawks are birds of prey belonging to the family Accipitridae. These are also known as raptors or aerial predators. Members of this family have hooked bills, sharp talons, swift flight, and keen eyesight.

The identification of hawk feathers is mainly based on their size and shape. Some typical characteristics of hawks are that they have hooked bills, long wings, large pointed tail feathers, and raptor-like feet.

Hawks can be found in all parts of the world except for Antarctica and New Zealand.

Here are some easy ways to identify a hawk feather:

  • Shape: The feathers on a hawk’s wing have a distinctive shape that is much longer than other bird species.
  • Feathers on top of the wing are rounded with ragged edges, while the feathers on the underside are long and narrow with serrated edges.
  • Hawk feathers can be found near hunting grounds or nests where hawks feed on small rodents, reptiles, amphibians, insects, fish.

Hawks also have unique feather shapes. Their wing feathers are pointed at the end like an arrowhead or triangle. The tail feathers are shaped like a fan or kite, with the longest feathers at the tail’s outer edge (near the body) and shorter ones towards the center.

They also have different colors in their plumage; most often, browns, grays, reds, oranges, buffy white, black, and even blue in some cases.

Hawks are predatory birds that live in North America, Europe, and Asia. They are close relatives of the eagle, kite, falcon and are often used as symbols in different cultures and religions because they can be seen as a symbol of nobility and power.


Hawks have long wings, which make them good flyers, and they have sharp talons that help them catch their prey. The female hawk has a white head with brown areas around her neck and under her chin. The male hawk has a black head with black feathers on his neck.

A hawk feather can be recognized by the following features:

  • Hawks are primarily found in North America, Europe, and Asia. They are also found in other parts of the world like Africa and South America. Although they are not found in Australia, they have been spotted before.
  • A Male hawk will have a brown chest while females have much less chest coloration. The brown color is to camouflage themselves from their prey when hunting.
  • They have long wings that help them catch prey in their talons or beaks, which is why they are called raptors, which means ‘to seize.’
  • The feathers on the wings of a hawk curve downwards to provide stability when diving for food or diving to escape danger.

What Is A Hawk Feather, And Why Is It Important?


Hawk feathers are essential to many different cultures and tribes. They are often used as a symbol of knowledge and wisdom.

Hawks use their feathers for insulation–they have broader feathers than most other birds. They can have anything from dense feathers to wide feathers with a tuft at the end.

The color of the feather also differs from species to species, but they are generally brown or grayish-brown with black or dark brown lines running through them.

Hawks are birds of prey. They often use their feathers for hunting.  Some cultures see Hawk feathers as a symbol of power, independence, and freedom. For others, it is a reminder of the strength of nature and the freedom to soar above it all.

To the Native Americans, the hawk feather is a symbol of strength. It is used in many different ways, from decoration to protection. In their culture, it has been a symbol of courage and fortitude since time immemorial.

Hawks are seen as a sign of peace and power, but they are also associated with death and rebirth. The Native Americans believe that the hawk will take a soul to Heaven when it dies.

The Native Americans believe that the feathers result from a direct connection between themselves and the Creator. They think that by wearing them, they can gain strength and protection from these forces. They are a symbol of power and protection to many Native Americans.


Hawking feathers are often used in rituals to connect with one’s inner-animal spirit. Hawk feathers are one of the most important parts of a hawk’s body. They are used for balance, steering, and to help the hawk fly.

Hawk feathers are an essential part of how hawks fly to steer in the right direction in the air. It is also their primary defense mechanism when they sense danger nearby.

For instance, in Native American culture, a Hawk’s feather is a lot more than just a symbol of protection and courage. It is worn as a symbol of knowledge and wisdom, earned through teaching or healing. The feather is also seen as a symbol of goodness, which may be achieved through courage, generosity, and charity. Tribal members believe that the hawk feather should only be given to those who deserve it, and it should never be wasted on someone unworthy.

Moreover, Hawk feathers are traditionally worn by Native Americans to symbolize their connection to the sky and the spirit world.

This culture is rich with symbolism and traditions, and hawk feathers are one example. The feather is believed to represent trustworthiness, honor, benevolence, honesty, and wisdom. It also has a deep connection to the sky and spirit world.

What are the Different Types of Hawk Feathers?


There are many different types of hawk feathers that these birds use for several purposes. They can use them to attract a mate, keep themselves warm, or camouflage themselves in the sky. Hawks have a variety of feathers on their bodies, depending on the purpose they serve.

There are three main types of hawk feathers. The first is the most common type and is of brown color. The second type is black color, and the third type is an iridescent blue.

The brown feathers are from adult hawks, while the black ones are from the young ones which will later turn brown once they grow old. The blue feathers come from both sexes and age ranges.

There are three different types of hawk feathers: primary, secondary, and tertiary.

The primary feather is the most visible and is usually located at the wing’s center. Secondary feathers are located along the edge of a hawk’s wing. These two types of feathers are used for capturing prey when soaring or in flight. They can also be rotated to help a hawk with turning during flight. Lastly, tertiary feathers cover the whole wing and serve as an extra layer for warmth when cold outside.


All different types of hawk feathers serve distinct purposes, for instance:

  1. Flight feathers: The flight feathers on a hawk’s wings are the longest and stiffest, providing flight stability.
  2. Tail feathers: The tail feathers of a hawk can be used to make quill pens. This type of feather has soft shafts that cut easily, and they’re not plucked from the bird’s body like other types of feathers.
  3. Primary feathers: These are the largest and most important feathers found on a hawk’s wing. They help control the bird’s movements as it soars through the sky, and they protect its body from injuries.
  4. Secondary feathers: These are short, narrow, and stiffer than primary feathers. They provide more stability to a bird as it flies quickly through the air or lands after taking off.
  5. Tertiary Feathers: These small and thin yet flexible, feather-like structures help stabilize birds’ flight in rough winds.


Hawk feathers are often used in Native American culture for their ornate designs created by light and dark bands. They were also used for things like arrows and fishing nets.

In addition, since the feathers look similar to a bird’s wing, hence they were also used for decoration purposes and ceremonial dresses.

Hawk feathers have an oblong shape with a pointy end, coming out from a central stem in two “hairs” on either side of the feather - one on top and one on the bottom. The base is lighter than the top, with darker colors that gradually get darker as they come towards the pointy end of the feather.

What Does Finding a Hawk Feather Mean?

Hawk Feathers are a symbol of wisdom and power.

A hawk feather represents power, guidance, and truth. Native Americans believed that the hawk had a supernatural vision and could fly far off into the distance that is why people would use feathers from hawks to tell their future or locate lost items.

A hawk feather symbolizes guidance and protection. It also represents an impending journey or change of location, often to a new home. The hawk is the bird of prey most frequently used by Native American shamans as a spiritual guide or communication tool with other spiritual realms. Its feathers are used as a metaphor for traveling on the “high road” in life, i.e., the path of knowledge, faith, and truthfulness.


Moreover, finding a hawk feather usually symbolizes that the person who found it will soon embark on a journey that will be both spiritually and physically challenging. The feather is seen as an omen of change; the change can vary depending on the message received when picking up the feather.

Also, these feathers have many other meanings, depending on how it’s found and what you do with them. The answer to this question can also depend on your culture.

For instance, some cultures believed that finding a hawk feather was a sign that the finder would be successful in their endeavors. Other cultures thought that it was a sign of death.

However, here are some of the most common meanings people believe in following upon finding a hawk’s feather.

  • Signifies that someone is looking for something important.
  • Indicates that someone has found something lost.
  • It means that the person who found it is highly skilled and highly respected in fitness and hunting.
  • Symbolizes the search for self-knowledge.

Lastly, the hawk is known as a bird of prey, and its feathers are seen as symbols of power. When Native Americans found a hawk feather, they often interpreted this as an omen or opportunity to pursue something they wanted.

The feather resembles knowledge, flying high above the earth like an eagle, also considered the spirit of wisdom.

In the Cherokee tribe, the people believed that they were messengers from the Creator. In tribes such as the Tlingit and Chippewa, they were seen as bringing messages and healing powers.

In addition, the feathers are also used in ceremonies to bless and protect people and to honor those who have died.


So to conclude, there are many interpretations of what finding a hawk feather means. Still, the most common understanding is that it means an important person has chosen an individual in their life. It also could be taken to mean that someone has found their true self and their true path in life.


Keep Reading!

Hawk’s feathers symbolize both practicality and spirituality. It embodies the idea of balance. In addition, the feather symbolizes power, strength, and courage. It also represents femininity because the hawk has a spindle shape like a woman’s body with long shins like a woman’s leg.

So, the next time you find a hawk’s feather, whether traveling or at your home, you know what it truly means, especially after you have learned how to identify one.

David A. Swanson Picture

By David A. Swanson

Bird Watching USA

My name is David and I'm the the founder of Bird Watching USA! I started Bird Watching with My father-in-law many years ago, and I've become an addict to watching these beautiful creatures. I've learnt so much over about bird watching over the years that I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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David A. Swanson Picture

David A. Swanson

Bird Watching USA

My name is David and I'm the the founder of Bird Watching USA! I started Bird Watching with My father-in-law many years ago, and I've become an addict to watching these beautiful creatures. I've learnt so much over about bird watching over the years that I want to share with the world everything I know about them!



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