Broadly speaking, Great Black Hawk occurs from northern Mexico south, west of the Andes, to northwestern Peru and, east of the Andes, to northern Argentina.
The northern subspecies, ridgwayi, is distributed from northern Mexico (north to southeastern Sonora, southwestern Chihuahua, and southern Tamaulipas) south to eastern Panama (Darién). The southern subspecies, urubitinga, occurs from eastern Panama (Darién) south to northwestern Peru, and to the pampas of northern Argentina and Uruguay; it also is on Trinidad and Tobago. This species is considered sedentary throughout the range, although there is evidence of some wandering from urubitinga into eastern San Blas (Panama) and from ridgwayi into northwestern Colombia (northwestern Chocó; the species also is seen occasionally south of breeding range in eastern Argentina (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001).
Vagrants of unknown provenance have been documented in the US, most notably on Virginia Key in s Florida (Diaz 2009). The first Florida Keys observations date back to the early 1970s, when multiple pairs, all of the South American urubitinga subspecies, were observed; these observations, now typically of single birds, have continued into the 2010's. To date, these records have not been accepted by the Florida Ornithological Society Records Committee, presumably because of doubts about the origin of this bird. In April 2018, a juvenile was photographed in s Texas, and very likely the same bird (based on a comparison of remarkably similar markings on the underwing coverts; see also Pyle et al. 2018) was seen in August and late fall 2018 in Maine, and remaining present until January 2019; this bird was euthanized, after it was found to have extensive frostbite on both of its legs. Immature Great Black Hawks cannot safely be identified to subspecies.