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Cuban Black Hawk
Buteogallus gundlachii

Status: Near Threatened

Population Trend: Stable.

Other Names: Cuban Black-hawk, Cuban Crab Hawk, Cuban Hawk.

Buteogallus gundlachii
click to enlarge
Distribution: Neotropical. CUBA, Isle of Pines, and adjacent cays. more....

Subspecies: Monotypic.

Taxonomy: Wetmore (1965) favored treating the Cuban Hawk as a distinct species, following Hellmayr and Conover (1949) and Friedmann (1950), but most subsequent authors, including the American Ornithologists' Union Committee on Classification and Nomenclature (1998), regarded it as a race of the Common Black Hawk, B. anthracinus. However, Monroe (1963, 1968) also considered it to be a full species and thought it was more closely related to B. subtilis than to B. anthracinus. He argued that if one recognizes the former taxon as a full species, then gundlachii must also be a specifically distinct. Wiley and Garrido (2004) presented conclusive arguments that the Cuban birds should be regarded as a full species separate from the Common Black Hawk, based on differences in morphometrics, plumage color and pattern, vocalizations, and nests and eggs, and they provided a thorough summary of its taxonomic history. The American Ornithologists' Union Committee on Classification and Nomenclature recently voted to accept full species status for the Cuban Black Hawk (Banks et al. 2007). more....

Movements: Presumably non-migratory.

Habitat and Habits: This species is mostly confined to coastal swamps and mangroves, although Wiley and Garrido (2004) observed a few in the white sand palm savanna of Los Indios, Isla de Pinos. The birds hunted in sparsely vegetated mangrove pannes and flooded openings, where they foraged by perching in your or dead mangroves. They also foraged and roosted in beach and coastal habitats, frequently perching in windbreaks of casuarina trees at the edge of mangroves and dirt roads.

Food and Feeding Behavior: Wiley and Garrido (2005) observed prey selection by this species at Los Indios, Isla de Pinos, during 1996-1998 and at Ciénega de Zapata in 1999-2000. They found that it takes a wider variety of prey than previously assumed and more kinds of prey than most tropical Common Black Hawk populations utilize. Crabs formed the majority (64.3%) of observations (n = 28), but the hawks also took centipedes (7.1%), lizards (10.7%), a Sora (3.6%), and rats (7.1%). Barbour (1923) described the hunting behavior of the species when it captures crabs, and Kirkconnell and Garrido (1991) reported one drowning a Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus), an unusual prey item (and perhaps an unusual behavior).

Breeding: Cuban Black Hawks breed from January through June (Garrido and Kirkconnell 2000), with egg-laying occurring in late March or April. Bangs (1905) collected a female containing a soft-shelled egg and found another tending a nest on 15 April. Bond (1950) reported a nest with a newly-hatched chick on 4 April. Eight nests studied by Wiley and Garrido (2005) at Los Indios, Isla de Pinos were large cup-shaped structures of mangrove twigs with deep bowls placed 3.5-8 m high in the subcanopy of a Red or Black Mangrove tree. The nests were lined with green leaves and sprigs of mangroves. Two of the nests were reused and increased in size in subsequent years. Clutch size was two eggs in six nests, and only one in another. The eggs were short sub-elliptical to elliptical with a finely granulated texture, and they were dull grayish-white, sometimes with a greenish of bluish cast early in incubation, and marked with spots and blotches of dark or reddish-brown, particularly at the large end. Measurements of 14 eggs were 55.87 mm (54.7-57.08) x 42.71 mm (41.9-44.1).

Conservation: Common in suitable habitat (Garrido and Kirkconnell 2000), and populations are probably stable. Regarded as Near Threatened by BirdLife International.

Important References: 
Amadon, D. 1961. Remarks on the genus Buteogallus. Novedades Columbianas
Amadon, D., and D.R. Eckelberry. 1955. Observations on Mexican birds.
  Condor 57:65-80.
Bangs, O. 1905. The Cuban Crab Hawk, Urubitinga gundlachii (Cabanis). Auk
Banks, R.C., R.T. Chesser, C. Cicero, J.L. Dunn, A.W. Kratter, I.J.
  Lovette, P.C. Rasmussen, J.V. Remsen, Jr., J.D. Rising, and D.F. Stotz.
2007. Forty-eight supplement to the American Ornithologists' Union
  Check-list of North American birds. Auk 124:1109-1115.
Barbour, T. 1923. The birds of Cuba. Memoirs of the Nuttall Ornithological
  Club no. 6.
Bierregaard, R.O. 1994. Common Black Hawk. P. 173 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.
Bond, J. 1936. Birds of the West Indies. Academy of Natural Sciences of
  Phildelphia, Philadelphia, PA.
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Garrido, O.H., and A. Kirkconnell. 2000. Field guide to the birds of Cuba.
  Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY.
Kirkconnell, A., and O. Garrido. 1991. Aberrante comportamiento de caza
  del Gavilán Batista Buteogallus anthracinus gundlachii(Aves: Accipitridae)
  en Cuba. Volante Migratorio no. 16:27-28.
Schnell, J.H. 1994. Common Black-hawk Buteogallus anthracinus. In A.
  Poole and F. Gill (eds.), The Birds of North America no. 122. Academy of
  Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, and American
  Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.
Valdés Miró, V. 1984. Datos de nidificación sobre las aves que crían en
  Cuba. Poeyana 282:1-27.
Wiley, J.W., and O.H. Garrido. 2004. Taxonomic status and biology of the
  Cuban Black-hawk, Buteogallus anthracinus gundlachii (Aves: Accipitridae).
  Journal of Raptor Research 39:351-364.

Rodríguez Santana, Freddy
Wiley, James

Last modified: 2/17/2011

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2020. Species account: Cuban Black Hawk Buteogallus gundlachii. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 30 May. 2020

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