Ferruginous Hawk

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Ferruginous Hawk
Conservation status: Lower risk
Missing image
FerruginousHawk23.jpg
Photo: Hawk in flight


Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Aves
Order:Falconiformes
Family:Accipitridae
Genus:Buteo
Species:B. regalis
Binomial name
Buteo regalis
(Gray,, 1844)

The Ferruginous Hawk, Buteo regalis, is a large hawk.

Adults have long broad wings and a broad grey, rusty or white tail. The legs are feathered to the talons, like the Rough-legged Hawk. There are two colour forms:

  • Light morph birds are rusty brown on the upper parts and pale on the head, neck and underparts with rust on the legs and some rust marking on the underwing. The upper wings are grey.
  • Dark morph birds are dark brown on both upperparts and underparts with light areas on the upper and lower wings.

Their breeding habitat is prairie and open country in mid-western North America. They build a stick nest on top of a tree or cliff edge, sometimes on the ground. Sometimes, cattle dung is used to line nest; historically, buffalo dung was used.

In the central part of their range, they are permanent residents. Northern birds migrate to the southern United States and Mexico.

These birds search for prey while flying over open country or from a perch. They may also wait in ambush outside the prey's burrow. They mainly eat small or medium-sized mammals such as jackrabbits and ground squirrels, also snakes and large insects.

Studies have found that prairie dogs can be a main prey item for Ferruginous Hawks, linking them to the populations of prairie dog towns in the mid-west and southwestern United States, which have been declining in recent years.

In flight, these birds soar with their wings in a dihedral. "Ferruginous" refers to the rusty colour of the light morph birds.

This bird's numbers are declining due to loss of habitat. This bird may also be sensitive to the use of pesticides on farms; they are also frequently shot.

References

  • Cartron JLE, Polechla PJ, Cook RR. (2004). "Prey of nesting ferruginous hawks in New Mexico". SOUTHWESTERN NATURALIST 49 (2): 270-276 JUN
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