Black Hawk (Buteogallus anthracinus)

Black Hawk

[order] ACCIPITRIFORMES | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Buteogallus anthracinus | [authority] Depp, 1830 | [UK] Black Hawk | [FR] Buse buson | [DE] Krabbenbussard | [ES] Busardo negro Norteno | [NL] Zwarte Buizerd


Monotypic species


Members of the genus Buteogallus are small to quite large hawks. Their wings are short to medium in length; broad and rounded; the tail is of medium length. They have coarse, heavy, rather long legs. The lores and adjacent areas are naked to varying degrees. Some feathers on the crown and nape are pointed, forming a slight crest. Adults are blackish with a white banded tail and often with some rufous in wing and (in one species) body plumage. Immature plumage is very different from adult.
The genus is present from south-western United States to Argentina, including the islands of Cuba and St Vincent. There are five species.

Physical charateristics

A black, buteonine hawk with exceptionally wide wings and long, chickenlike yellow legs. Identified by its chunky shape and the broad white band
crossing the middle of the tail. In flight, a whitish spot shows near the tip of the wing at the base of the primaries. Dark-backed with a heavily striped buffy
head and underparts; the tail is narrowly banded with five or six dark bands.

Listen to the sound of Black Hawk

[audio: Hawk.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 120 cm wingspan max.: 130 cm
size min.: 50 cm size max.: 55 cm
incubation min.: 37 days incubation max.: 40 days
fledging min.: 43 days fledging max.: 50 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 3  


North America, Latin America : Southwest USA to Northwest South America


Wooded streams. Almost always found near water. In United States, breeds in tall trees (especially cottonwoods) along streams with more or less permanent water flow and with relative lack of human disturbance. In tropics, found in wider range of habitats, including lowl
and rain forest, mountain rivers, coastal mangrove swamps.


In courtship, pairs soar and dive, calling, with long legs dangling. Near nest site, male may feed female.
Nest: In United States, site is in tree in grove along stream, usually in cottonwood or sycamore. Site usually 30-90′ above ground. Nest is bulky platform of sticks, lined with green leaves; male brings much material, female adds it to nest.

Clutch 1 -2, sometimes 3. White to greenish white, blotched with brown and lavender. Incubation is by both parents, with female incubating at night and much of day.
Young: Female remains at nest almost constantly for first 2 weeks after eggs hatch, and much of the time thereafter. Male hunts and brings food to nest, female feeds it to young. Young leave nest after about 6-
7 weeks, move to nearby trees; can fly well at about 10 weeks; adults continue feeding them a further 5-6 weeks.

Feeding habits

Includes fish, frogs, lizards. Feeds on a wide variety of small creatures, but especiall
y those found in water. In United States, eats mostly fish, frogs, tadpoles, and lizards, plus some small birds, snakes, rodents, insects. In tropics, diet may include many crayfish, crabs, large insects.
Behavior: Hunts mostly by watching from low perch, then gliding down to catch prey in talons. Sometimes hunts actively along streams by moving from rock to rock at water’s edge, and sometimes wades in shallow water, stirring up prey.

Video Black Hawk


copyright: J. del Hoyo


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Black Hawk status Least Concern


Southwestern United States to Ecuador. Breeds locally in central and southern Arizona. Has bred in New Mexico; casual to accidental elsewhere. Migration:
Non-migratory in most of range, but only a summer visitor in United States, where it arrives mostly in March, departs mostly in September and October.

Distribution map

Black Hawk distribution range map

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