The Harris' Hawk is not found in Kentucky, but is native to the southwest region of the U.S, including Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and southern California. They prefer upland deserts dominated by saguaro cacti, arid mesquite and paloverde woodlands, or some juniper-oak habitat.
Harris' Hawks are extremely social raptors, and they are the only cooperative nesting raptor in North American. Individual breeding groups reside in and defend breeding territories. One alpha female forms a group with several males, and immature birds from previous clutches. All bring food back to the nest, resulting in a higher success rate for raising young. In most cases, only the alpha male and female feed and brood the young.
They often hunt cooperatively as well, using a flush and ambush, surprise pounces and relay attack methods. Kills are shared among the entire nesting group. As a result, Harris' Hawks are called the lions of the desert and resemble a pack of lions crowding around the kill to get their share. In winter, they perch in groups of up to a dozen. Sometimes, due to lack of perching space in the desert, they stand on another bird's shoulders, stacking 5-7 birds high in a cheerleader-like fashion. Their numbers are declining due to urban sprawl reducing their habitat.
Sade' came from a breeder in St. Louis who had a captive breeding permit, and she hatched in spring 1988. A local falconer purchased her and hunted her for 2 years until the winter of 1990-91. Harris' Hawks make wonderful falconry birds, and Sade' was an excellent hunter who caught several rabbits each time out. Unfortunately, it is hard to keep desert birds in an area like Kentucky where the winters can get very cold. The falconer had perched her outside before going to work one mild sunny morning. The temperature dropped unexpectedly and Sade' was frostbitten. She lost the ends of each wing, as a human would lose a finger that was frostbitten, and they will not grow back. She joined RROKI in July 1991.