Rough-legged Hawk

General description.

The Rough-legged Hawk, a magnificent bird from the North, is often seen perched on fence posts in open country. This bird has two morphs. Both morphs are fairly common. The light morph has a white head and a dark body as well as a light tail. The dark morph is brown all over, excluding the tail which is light. This bird flies low so it can see its prey better. This is one of the biggest birds to hover over one spot while searching for food. The Rough-legged Hawk eats rodents and insects. This bird often nests on cliffs or banks. Populations of the Rough-legged Hawk are common in the breeding range but more local in the winter range. In the past, this bird was shot and killed in large numbers in the West, but now they are mostly killed by cars as they are feeding on carrion on highways.

Juvenile appearance.

The band on the tail is less distinct on juvenile Rough-legged Hawks.

Flight pattern.

Direct, but may hover on wind currents.

Breeding habits.


Calls or song.

Usually silent.

Population and distribution.

Common in breeding range, but uncommon in winter range.

Nesting habits.

The Rough-legged Hawk nests on a platform and lays 2-3 or 5-7 white eggs.
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