Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis)

Ferruginous Hawk

[order] ACCIPITRIFORMES | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Buteo regalis | [authority] Gray, 1844 | [UK] Ferruginous Hawk | [FR] Buse rouilleuse | [DE] Konigsbussard | [ES] Busardo Herrumbroso | [NL] Rosse Ruigpootbuizerd


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Buteo regalis NA w, wc


Members of the genus Buteo are broad-winged, broad-tailed hawks, Well adapted for soaring. The bill, legs and talons are of average proportions. There is much colour variation both within the species, and, by way of phases, within individual species. In all cases the young are quite different from adults in that they are all well camouflaged with an overall brown appearance with varying amounts of striping below and paler mottling above.
The 25 species are spread worldwide with the exception of Australasia and much of the Indian sub-continent.

Physical charateristics

A large, narrow-winged buteo of the plains. Rufous above, whitish below, with a whitish or pale rufous tail and light patch on upper surface of primaries. Head often quite pale. Overhead, typical adults show a
dark V formed by the rufousthighs. Immatures lack this and also the rusty patches on the underwing. They show a white rump and a gray tail. Dark morphs (adults) overhead have dark wing linings, contrasting with white flight feathers and white tails.

Listen to the sound of Ferruginous Hawk

[audio:http://www.planetofbirds.com/MASTER/ACCIPITRIFORMES/Accipitridae/sounds/Ferruginous Hawk.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 122 cm wingspan max.: 142 cm
size min.: 56 cm size max.: 69 cm
incubation min.: 32 days incubation max.: 33 days
fledging min.: 38 days fledging max.: 40 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 5  


North America : West, Westcentral


Plains, prairies. Found at all seasons in very open and dry country. Inhabits dry grassland, sagebrush plains, saltbush and greasewood flats, rangeland, desert. In winter, also in agricultural country, including over plowed fields.


Pairs may circle high above nesting territory, calling.
Nest: Site is usually in top of tree, 20-50′ above ground, but can be as low as 6′ (available trees may be very short). Sometimes nests on cliff or on ground. Nest is bulky structure of sticks and debris, lined with finer materials, including cow dung. Historically, some nests were built of bison bones and lined with bison dung. Nest may be reused and added to annually until it becomes huge.
Clutch size 2 -4, sometimes up to 6 or more. Pale bluish white fading to white, usually marked with brown. Incubation is by both sexes, but female does more, and male brings food to her. Incubation period 32-33 days.

Female remains with young at first; male brings food, female feeds it to young. After about 3 weeks, both parents hunt. Age of young at first flight about 40 -50 days.

Feeding habits

Mostly small to medium-sized mammals.
Feeds on most readily available small prey, such as young jackrabbits, ground squirrels, pocket gophers, kangaroo rats; also cottontails, mice, others. Also eats birds, snakes, large insects.
Behavior: Hunts by watching for prey while soaring high, flying low, or from a raised perch. Sometimes waits on ground near active burrow of pocket gopher, then catches the rodent as it surfaces.

Video Ferruginous Hawk


copyright: Conan Guard


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). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to 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.
Ferruginous Hawk status Least Concern


Southwestern Canada, western United States. Winters southwestern United States, northern Mexico. Migration: Mostly a short-distance migrant; some southern breeders may be permanent residents. Very rarely strays east of normal range.

Distribution map

Ferruginous Hawk distribution range map

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