California Raptor Center

Ferruginous Hawk

Scientific Name: Buteo platypterus(Buteo is Latin for ‘hawk’, platypterus is from the Greek playts meaning ‘broad’ and pteron meaning ‘wing’).

Size: Length: 13-17 in Wingspan: 32-36inWeight: Female: 490g (average) ~1.1lbMale: 420g (average) ~0.92lb Range: 265-560g (~0.58-1.2lb)

Lifespan: In the wild may live 7 or more years and in captivity may live 14 or more years.

ID: Adults have a dark brown back and a pale underside with horizontal cinnamon or chestnut barring. The tail is dark gray to black with a conspicuous broad white stripe across the middle and two less conspicuous white stripes at the base and tip. In flight, broad-winged hawks have pointed wing tips. When perched, the wing tips of broad-winged hawks don't reach the end of the tail.Rare dark (melanistic) morphs of broad-winged hawks are occasionally seen in the northern part of the geographic range. These birds are entirely dark brown, with a tail similar to typical adults.Juvenile broad-winged hawks are similar in appearance to adults, but have longitudinal, rather than horizontal barring on their chest and belly. Juveniles also tend to have more white on their chest and belly than adults. Males and females of any age look similar, though females tend to be larger than males.

Hunting: Hunt from a perch. Typically, they swoop down on prey to capture it on the ground.

Prey: Consists of whichever insects, amphibians, reptiles, mammals and birds are available at any given time

Breeding: Breed between April and August, raising one brood per summer. Nest building typically begins in late April through mid-May. The male and female both build the nest, a process that takes 2 to 4 weeks. The nest is built in the main crotch of deciduous trees or on a platform of branches next to the trunk of a conifer. It is constructed of dead sticks and fresh sprigs, and lined with bark chips. Some pairs may renovate and reuse nests of other species.The female lays 1 to 4 (usually 2 to 3) eggs at 1 to 2 day intervals. Incubation is carried out by the female and lasts 28 to 31 days. The chicks are brooded by the female for the first week or so after hatching. The chicks leave the nest 5 to 6 weeks after hatching, but remain in their parents territory for another 4 to 8 weeks. They begin to capture their own prey at about 7 weeks old.

Range: Broad-winged hawks are native to the Nearctic and Neotropical regions. They breed throughout the eastern United States and most of southern Canada. Their winter range includes California, southern Florida, the Pacific slope of southern Mexico, Central America and northern South America.

Status: In North America, broad-winged hawks are considered quite common.Broad-winged hawks are protected under the U.S. Migratory Bird Act and CITES Appendix II. They are classified as a species of least concern by the IUCN. One subspecies of broad-winged hawk, the Puerto Rican broad-winged hawk (Buteo platypterus brunnescens) is protected as an endangered species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.