Broad-winged Hawk

Buteo platypterus (wide or broad winged)
Prepared by: 
Ann Walton
  • Length: 14-19 inches
  • Wingspan: 34 – 40 inches
  • Weight: 265 – 560 gm

A small, stout buteo; adult males and females have similar coloration. Adults are medium brown above with rufous barring below. The tail has broad black and white bands. In flight, the white underwings are darkly bordered. Immatures are brownish, with streaked underparts, a black “whisker” streak and indistinct bands on the tail.

 

Subspecies: 
Six recognized; only one subspecies in U.S. (B. p. platyptrus)
Distribution: 
Central and southern Canada to Brazil
Habitat: 
A woodland species, found in deep to semi-open mixed forest. Frequents edges and openings.
Feeding: 
Diet consists of small mammals from mice to rabbits, birds up to the size of grouse, reptiles, amphibians and insects, such as grasshoppers and dragonflies. Hunts, concealed, from a tree perch in forest or along edge of clearing. Sometimes prey is searched out by direct flight, generally at tree top level.
Breeding: 
March to July. Solitary. The sloppy stick nest, lined with barkchips and greenery 30-50 feet above the ground, is usually placed in the first main crotch of a deciduous (sometimes coniferous) tree. Will use nests of other raptors, crows or squirrels. Clutch of 2-3 eggs. Can breed at one year, but usually waits until 2 years.
Movements: 
Along with the Swainson’s Hawk, the Broad-winged is one of the most conspicuous North American raptor migrants because of the large concentrated flocks often numbering in the thousands. With the exception of the birds in South Florida, the entire North American population departs for the winter, the northern most birds traveling almost 8800 km. Spring migration peak is late March to early April in South Texas. The fall migration peaks in our area between mid September and early October.
Status: 
Stable and common, with the North American population estimated at one million birds.