Roadside Hawk (Buteo magnirostris)

Roadside Hawk

[order] ACCIPITRIFORMES | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Buteo magnirostris | [authority] Gmelin, 1788 | [UK] Roadside Hawk | [FR] Buse a gros bec | [DE] Wegebussard | [ES] Busardo Caminero | [NL] Wegbuizerd


Monotypic species


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

Fairly small compared to other members of the Buteo genus, the Roadside Hawk can be identified by its lengthy tail and disproportionately short wings. The breast and underparts of the bird are barred brown and white and the tail has four or five grey bars. The eyes of the Roadside Hawk are usually yellow in color and rufous patches on the bird’s wings can be observed while the hawk is in flight.

Listen to the sound of Roadside Hawk

[audio: Hawk.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: cm wingspan max.: cm
size min.: 33 cm size max.: 41 cm
incubation min.: 36 days incubation max.: 38 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 38 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 2  


Latin America : Mexico to Northeast Argentina


With the possible exception of dense forests, the Roadside Hawk is well adapted to most ecosystems of its range. Lowland tropical areas to subtropical habitats, but not in the interior or large open savannahs. In most South American countries a very abundant species adapted to a range of habitats.


Builds a bulky nest of sticks and lined with leaves. The matures are very noisy around the nest which is mostly found in isolated, emergent trees. The clutch size is 1 (Venezuela) to 2 (Mexico) eggs, incubated for about 37 days. Will renest after brood failed.

Feeding habits

Roadside Hawks use still-hunting (hunting from a perch and dropping down to capture a prey item) or, to a much lesser extend, ground-hunting (walking on the ground and seizing prey in the talons) and aerial attacks on birds. The height of the perch is about 10 meter high. Reptiles comprise over half of the nestling diet overall. also Amphibians, Insects, mammals and birds. Lizards, frogs, and insects typically are delivered to nests intact, but most mammals are decapitated or partially eaten before delivery. Birds are plucked before they are brought to the prey exchange site.

Video Roadside Hawk


copyright: K. Blomerley


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 is very 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.
A common bird throughout its range, the Roadside Hawk can be found in Mexico, Brazil, and the Northern parts of Argentina. In Suriname the most numerous Hawk, found everywhere except in large patches of dense forest.
Roadside Hawk status Least Concern


Sedentary in all of its range.

Distribution map

Roadside Hawk distribution range map


Title Diet and Foraging Behavior of Nesting Roadside Hawks in
Peten, Guatemala
Author(s): Theresa Panasci and David Whitacre
Abstract: In 1993 and 1994, we collected data
on the diet a..[more]..
Source: Wilson Bull., 112(4), 2000, pp. 555-558

download full text (pdf)

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