Rufous Crab-Hawk (Buteogallus aequinoctialis)

Rufous Crab-Hawk

[order] ACCIPITRIFORMES | [family] Accipitridae | [latin] Buteogallus aequinoctialis | [authority] Gmelin, 1788 | [UK] Rufous Crab-Hawk | [FR] Buse buson | [DE] Rotbauch-Bussard | [ES] Busardo-negro del Atlantico | [NL] Krabbenbuizerd


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

Narrow black barred rufous on underparts, red wingbar and white fuzzy tail bar. Head throat and hind neck black, more dark brown on back. Primaries and secundaries rufous white a white tip. Long yellow legs with a black beak.

Listen to the sound of Rufous Crab-Hawk

[audio: Crab-Hawk.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: cm wingspan max.: cm
size min.: 42 cm size max.: 46 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 0 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 2  


South America : North, East coasts


Coastal lowland magroves, savannas and swamps.


The nest is bult of twigs lined with grass. Clutch size 1-2 eggs laid at the start of the rainy season in Suriname. No further data available.

Feeding habits

Mostly, some say exclusively, crabs which are caught with a sot dive from a low perch.

Video Rufous Crab-Hawk


copyright: Pieter de Groot Boersma


This species has a very 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 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.
In suriname confined to the coastal mangroves and outer rivers where
it is the most characteristic hawk.
Rufous Crab-Hawk status Least Concern


Sedentary in all of its range.

Distribution map

Rufous Crab-Hawk distribution range map

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