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Roadside Hawk
Rupornis magnirostris

Status: Lower risk

Population Trend: Increasing.

Other Names: Asturina magnirostris, Buteo magnirostris, Gray-tailed Hawk (griseocauda), Insect Hawk, Large-billed Hawk (insidiatrix), Tropical Broad-winged Hawk.

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Rupornis magnirostris
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Distribution: Neotropical. Northeastern MEXICO south through Central American lowlands to South America west of the Andes south to western ECUADOR and throughout South America east of the Andes to eastern PERU and ARGENTINA; accidental in UNITED STATES (Texas). more....

Subspecies: 12 races. R. m. griseocauda : MEXICO (Colima, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas), except for Yucatán and Tabasco, south to northwestern COSTA RICA and western PANAMA (Chiriquí); R. m. conspectus : Southeastern MEXICO (Tabasco and Yucatán Peninsula) and BELIZE; R. m. gracilis : MEXICO (Cozumel, Holbox, and Meco Is., off Yucatán); R. m. sinushonduri : HONDURAS (Bonacca and Ruatan Is.); R. m. petulans : Southwestern COSTA RICA and Pacific slope of western PANAMA; R. m. alius : PANAMA (Pearl Islands); R. m. magnirostris : Eastern PANAMA and COLOMBIA south to western ECUADOR and east of the Andes south to eastern ECUADOR through VENEZUELA and the GUIANAS south to Amazonian BRAZIL; R. m. occiduus : Eastern PERU, northern BOLIVIA, and western BRAZIL; R. m. saturatus : BOLIVIA through PARAGUAY and southwestern BRAZIL to western ARGENTINA; R. m. nattereri : Northeastern BRAZIL (Maranhno south to Bahia); R. m. magniplumis : Southern BRAZIL, northern ARGENTINA (Misiones), and adjacent PARAGUAY (Alto Paraná); R. m. pucherani : URUGUAY and northeastern ARGENTINA. more....

Taxonomy: Recent molecular studies of Riesing et al. (2003), Lerner and Mindell (2005), and Lerner et al. (2008) showed that this species is basal to all buteos, and they supported its placement in the monotypic genus Rupornis, a name used by earlier authors (e.g., Pinto 1938). Formerly, Johnson and Peeters (1963) had hypothesized a close relationship between the Roadside Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Ridgway's Hawk, and Broad-winged Hawk (the so-called "woodland buteos"), but the recent molecular studies showed that this species is in a clearly separated lineage. more....

Movements: Irruptive or local migrant (Bildstein 2006). Probably sedentary in most parts of its range. more....

Habitat and Habits: Occurs in lowlands and middle elevations, prefering the edges of second-growth and primary forest, broken woodland, arid tropical scrub, savannas with scattered trees, stands of trees along the margins of roads, highways, and cultivated areas, and even suburbs, woodlots and parks in cities. Perches on fenceposts and in trees at the edges of patches of woodland. Frequently moves from perch to perch across clearings, alternating flaps with glides, but does not soar particularly often or well. Usually seen singly, but occasionally in pairs. Not particularly shy, and many observers have commented on its lack of wariness, e.g., "tame to the point of stupidity" (Aldrich and Boles 1937). more....

Food and Feeding Behavior: Feeds mostly on large insects, but also takes small birds (including nestlings), small mammals (including roosting bats), snakes, lizards, and scorpions. Generally hunts by dropping from a low perch in an isolated tree, or a telephone pole and plunging in a downward glide with closed wings to capture prey on the ground (Haverschmidt 1962). These small hawks may also walk around the ground and seize prey in the talons, or capture birds in aerial pursuits (Panasci and Whitacre 2000). This species sometimes follows army ant swarms to capture the insects and small vertebrates flushed by the ants. Dickey and van Rossem (1938) also regarded it as a persistent follower of brush and grass fires in El Salvador. van Rossem encountered birds unable to fly with badly burned wing and tail feathers, which apparently occurred when they captured prey items in the midst of grass fires. more....

Breeding: The nest is a small, compact platform of sticks, lined with fine strips of bark and leaves, often placed at medium height in the crotch of a tree growing at a forest edge or in second-growth. Nests in Argentina are lined with lichens (Usnea sulcata), and green leafy materials are often added during the incubation and nestling periods (Di Giacomo 2005). Nests are rarely reconditioned and re-used in successive years, and most pairs build new nests in different trees in the next season (Panasci and Whitacre 2002). Clutch size ranges from 1-3 eggs, averaging 1.92 eggs over the entire range of the species (n = 127; T. Panasci unpubl.), and the eggs are dull white with brown markings. Bierregaard (1994) stated that the incubation period is about 37 days, beginning with the first egg. In Argentina, the nestling period is about 35 days (Di Giacomo op cit.). Panasci and Whitacre (2002) reported one observation of nestling siblicide. more....

Conservation: This is usually the most common and conspicuous raptor throughout its extensive range, and it is increasing in numbers in many regions as primary habitats are cleared. Categorized as a species of "Least Concern" by BirdLife International (2007). more....

Important References: 
Bierregaard, R.O. 1994. Roadside Hawk. P. 179 in del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott,
  and J. Sargatal (eds). Handbook of birds of the world. Vol. 2. New World
  vultures to guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.
Brown, L., and D. Amadon. 1968. Eagles, hawks, and falcons of the world.
  Vol. 2. Country Life Books, Feltham, Middlesex, UK.
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world.
  Houghton Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Palmer, R.S. Roadside Hawk. Pp. 411-412 in R.S. Palmer (ed.), Handbook of
  North American birds. Vol. 4. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT.
Panasci, T. 2012. Roadside Hawk. Pp. 152-163 in D.F. Whitacre (ed.),
  Neotropical birds of prey: biology and ecology of a forest raptor community.
  Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY.

Sites of Interest:
Roadside Hawk photos.
Aves de Rapina do Brasil
Species account with emphasis on Brazil.

Beaumont, John
Lambertucci, Sergio
Liébana, María Soledad
Olivo Quiroga, Cristian E.
Shrum, Peggy
Silveira da Silva, Elsimar

Last modified: 7/27/2012

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2021. Species account: Roadside Hawk Rupornis magnirostris. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 9 Dec. 2021

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