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Savanna Hawk
Buteogallus meridionalis

Status: Lower risk

Population Trend: Stable.

Other Names: Red-winged Hawk, Rufous-headed Hawk, Savannah Hawk, Tawny Hawk.

Buteogallus meridionalis
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Distribution: Neotropical. Western PANAMA (Chiriquí, absent from Darién) south in tropical South America west of the Andes to northwestern PERU and east of the Andes east to the Gianas south through ECUADOR, eastern PERU, eastern BOLIVIA and BRAZIL to northern ARGENTINA, PARAGUAY, and URUGUAY; TRINIDAD; absent from northern and western Amazonia. more....

Subspecies: Monotypic. more....

Taxonomy: Formerly placed in a separate monotypic genus, Heterospizias (Hellmayr and Conover 1949, Friedmann 1950, Meyer de Schauensee 1970), but Plótnick (1956) showed that this species belongs in the subfamily Buteoninae, not Accipitrinae, a view espoused earlier by Amadon (1949), Amadon and Eckelberry (1955), and Amadon (1982). More recently, however, the mitochondrial gene study of Raposo do Amaral (2006) showed a closer relationship between this species and Leucopternis lacernulatus than to B. urubitinga. Their results showed that the Savanna Hawk is part of a clade which also includes L. plumbeus, L. schistacea, L. lacernulatus, Buteogallus urubitinga, and Harpyhaliaetus coronatus.

Movements: Partial migrant (Bildstein 2006), making local movements in response to short-term environmental fluctuations. In Argentina, birds breeding in central Argentina migate during the non-breeding season to northern Argentina, the Brazilian Pantanal, and possibly farther northward (Ortiz and Capllonch 2007).

Habitat and Habits: Occurs in lowlands in savannas or other open, mostly drier country with scattered trees and mangroves, often along seashores, forest edges, or the along roads and highways. In French Guiana, it avoids marshes, but uses rice fields (Thiollay 2007). Typically perches on fences, powerlines, or mounds of earth, or found walking around on the ground. Solitary or sometimes found in small groups, especially at grass fires.more....

Food and Feeding Behavior: Feeds on small mammals, birds, snakes, lizards, frogs, toads, eels, crabs, and large insects. May stoop on prey from flight, hunt from a low perch in a tree of fencepost, or forage while walking around on the ground. Frequently follows grass fires or farm equipment on foot to feed on flushed prey, sometimes in large groups. Pirates food from herons in Argentina (Di Giacomo 2005).more....

Breeding: The nest is a large platform of sticks, lined with grass or lichen (Usnea sulcata), and placed in an isolated tree in savanna, a large tree at the edge of forest, or at the base of the leaves of a large palm tree. Clutch size is 1-2 eggs, which are white with a few reddish-brown and brown spots and blotches. The incubation period at Argentine nests was 35-36 days, and the nestling period was between 48-55 days (Di Giacomo 2005).more....

Conservation: Common to very common in South American portions of range.  Since it is fairly tolerant of cattle ranching land uses, this species is probably expanding its range at the margins in many regions, as increasing deforestation occurs. Categorized as a species of "Least Concern" by BirdLife International (2007). more....

Important References: 
Amadon, D. 1961. Remarks on the genus Buteogallus. Novedades Columbianas
Amadon, D. 1982. A revision of the sub-buteonine hawks (Accipitridae,
  Aves). American Museum Novitates 2741.
Bierregaard, R.O. 1994. Savanna Hawk. P. 174 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.
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Mader, W.J. 1982. Ecology and breeding habits of the Savanna Hawk of the
  llanos of Venezuela. Condor 84:261-271.
Navarro R., R., E. Gedio Marín, and J. Muñoz G. 2007. [Notes on the
  reproductive biology of three accipitrids in Venezuela]. Ornitologia
  Neotropical 18:453-457. (In Spanish with English summary)
Plotnick, R. 1956. [Systematic position of the genus Heterospizias.]
  Hornero 10:136-139.

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

Beaumont, John
Canuto, Marcus
Granzinolli, Marco

Last modified: 7/12/2011

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2022. Species account: Savanna Hawk Buteogallus meridionalis. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 27 Jan. 2022

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