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Ferruginous Hawk
Buteo regalis

Status: Lower risk

Population Trend: Declining.

Other Names: Ferruginous Rough-leg, Ferruginous Rough-legged Hawk.

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Buteo regalis
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Distribution: Nearctic. Southern CANADA from south-central British Columbia, southern Alberta, and southwestern Manitoba, south through west-central UNITED STATES to northern TEXAS; winters south to northern MEXICO (Baja California, Durango, Tamaulipas). more....

Subspecies: Monotypic.

Taxonomy: Formerly placed with B. lagopus in separate genera Triorchis or Archibuteo.

Movements: Partial migrant (Bildstein 2006). more....

Habitat and Habits: Occurs in open country, primarily arid prairie, sagebrush, and steppe-deserts with short vegetation containing large populations of small mammals. In its wintering range, it is often found on plowed fields and other cultivated lands.

Food and Feeding Behavior: Jackrabbits (Lepus sp.) are the most important prey in many localities, especially on a biomass basis, and other important food species include pocket gophers, kangaroo rats, ground squirrels, cottontails, antelope squirrels, deer mice, and passerines. In Canada, it is a specialist predator on Richardson's Ground Squirrels. In some areas, numbers of Ferruginous Hawks closely reflect cycles in rodent or jackrabbit populations (Howard and Wolfe 1976, Woffinden and Murphy 1977, Smith et al. 1981). This species usually hunts by flying low over the ground, but sometimes prey (e.g., ground squirrels) is pursued on foot. more....

Breeding: Nests in a variety of situations, including cliffs, low rocky outcrops, dirt piles, isolated trees, haystacks, power poles, buildings, windmills, and other man-made structures, or even in an elevated spot on the ground. The nest is a large structure of sticks, lined with grass, shredded bark. or dried cow chips. Clutch size ranges from 2-6 eggs, but is usually 3-5 eggs. Both sexes share incubation duties, and the incubation period is 36 days. The nestling period ranges from 6-8 weeks. more....

Conservation: There has been concern about the health of populations of the Ferruginous Hawk in several parts of its range in recent decades, owing mostly to ongoing habitat loss. Loss of uncultivated land and the prey base that it supports limits the breeding success of this species, and some pairs may even fail to attempt breeding in years, or areas, of food scarcity. In addition, this species is more sensitive than most raptors to disturbance at the nest and is prone to nest desertion. Although it is categorized as a species of "Least Concern" by BirdLife International, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) upgraded the status of the Ferruginous Hawk from Special Concern to Threatened in April 2008 because of a 64% decline in the Alberta population over the past 15 years. more....

Population Estimates: The breeding population is Canada is currently estimated at 2,000 to 4,000 pairs (COSEWIC 2009). more....

Important References: 
Bechard, M.J., and J.K. Schmutz. 1995. Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis).
  In A. Poole and F. Gill (eds.), The Birds of North America no. 172.
  The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and American
  Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.
Bent, A.C. 1937. Life histories of North American birds of prey. Order
  Falconiformes (Part 1). U.S. National Museum Bulletin 167.
Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. 2009.
Hawk. COSEWIC, http://www.cosewic.gc.ca/.
Olendorff, R.R 1993. Status, biology, and management of Ferruginous Hawks:
  a review. Raptor Research and Technical Assistance Center Special Report.
  U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Boise, ID. 84
Smith, D.G. 1988. Ferruginous Hawk, Buteo regalis (Gray). Pp. 135-151 in
  R.S. Palmer (ed.), Handbook of North American birds. Vol. 5. Family
  Accipitridae (concluded), Falconidae. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT.
Travsky, A., and G.P. Beauvais. 2005. Species assessment for the
  Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis) in Wyoming. U.S. Department of the
  Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Cheyenne, WY.
White, C.M. 1994. Ferruginous Hawk. P. 188 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.

Sites of Interest:
Ferruginous Hawk Organization
Dedicated to the conservation of the Ferruginous Hawk and its habitat through research and public education.
Ferruginous Hawk photos.

Andersen, David
Atkinson, Eric
Bechard, Marc J.
Fuller, Mark
Harmata, Al
Kochert, Michael N.
McIntyre, Carol
Moore, Stan
Preston, Charles
Restani, Marco
Slater, Steve
Smith, Jeff
Smith, Brian
Steenhof, Karen
Watson, Jim

Last modified: 3/30/2011

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2021. Species account: Ferruginous Hawk Buteo regalis. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 13 Jun. 2021

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