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Birds of North America, Vagrant Visitors, Introduced Birds and Possibilities

Ferruginous Hawk

Buse rouilleuse

Buteo regalis

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Species: The Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis) is the largest member of the buteo family in North America. This large bird of prey prefers open habitats such as prairies, and sparsely treed grasslands. The main diet is ground squirrels, prairie dogs, rabbits, snakes and large insects. Commonly seen perched on fence post or in trees next to highways. When prey is spotted, will fly up into the sky over the prey, where it will dive down upon it.

Distinctions: Adults are similar in appearance, the female being the larger of the two. Seems by some to come in three morphs. One being a light rufous back, white on breast and the under wings, a second which has a darker rufous body, with a light rufous breast and under wings. Then the third morph being a dark brown body, whose outer wing feather are white. These birds, like the Rough-legged Hawk, have feathered feet right to the toes. A large beak, with a large yellow gap stopping below the eye. The top of the wings have a large white areas at the base of the primaries and secondaries, a white tail with very light makings.

Voice: Silent on most occasions, shrilled two syllable calls, repeated over.

Nesting: Two to three white or bluish white eggs, one brood per year. Nest built in mature trees, high above the ground. Built from branches, sticks, twigs, leaves and softer materials. Usually, located in gullies or wooden groves.

Birds of North America
B L W W W Family Latin Name
23" 58cm 56" 1.42m 3.5lb 1.58kg Accipitridae Buteo regalis

  • Summer
  • Year Around
  • Winter

Distribution: Reports going back as far as eighty years, states this hawk as uncommon. Can be seen in Southern Manitoba, west to Southern Alberta, into Southern Washington, throughout the western states. Migrates into California as far as Northern Mexico and the western half of Texas. Population numbers may reflect loss of habitat and persecution by man

References to Other Bird Sites:

Avibase - the world bird database

ABA - American Birding Association

AOS - The American Ornitholgy Society

ABC - American Bird Conservancy

eBird - TheCornellLab of Ornithology

NA - National Geographic

NAC - National Audubon Society

Classic Collection of North American Birds