Broad-winged Hawk

Broad-winged Hawk

Details About The Broad-winged Hawk

  • General Information

    Their small crow-like size sets the Broad-winged Hawk apart from other North American buteos. It has short but rather pointed wings with only three of the outer primaries notched. The tail has alternating broad bands in black and white. The back and wings are dark brown. In adults, the breast has narrow rufous barring. In immature birds, the breast is buffy with varying amounts of dark spotting. Adults have a slight malard stripe (mustache) and a light square window on wings.

    Latin Name: Buteo platypterus
    Class: Aves
    Order: Falconiformes
    Family: Accipitridae
    Length: 13-17 inches
    Weight: 11-17 ounces
    Wingspan: 32-36 inches
    Common Name: Broadwing
    Etymology: buteo (Latin) - "kind of falcon or hawk"; platypterus (Greek) - "broad-winged

  • Flight, Voice & Habitat

    The Broadwing glides and soars on flattened wings, a labored flapping soar. Still-hunting from perches seems to be the preferred hunting technique. Their pointed wings can sometimes be confused with Peregrine Falcon.

    Their two-syllable whistle pee-wee, the first note slightly higher in pitch. The male Broadwing's call is noticeably higher than the female's.

    This hawk prefers continuous rather than broken woodlands, although they use edges of openings for hunting. Most nest near water.

  • Nesting

    Broadwings place nests in the crotch of a tree and rarely reuse nests in consecutive years. They might renovate old crow, other raptor, or squirrel nests, often in the vicinity of water. Nests are usually located 25-40 feet high in the lower third of a tree. 2-4 eggs are laid, and the female incubates while the male provides food. Incubation lasts 28-31 days, and the young fledge by the sixth week. Clutch size increases as you go south to north.

  • Distribution

    They follow routes that concentrate birds into large groups of thousands of birds. There is spectacular kettling of a huge column of birds before gliding off the top to the next thermal. These groups travel distances of 10,000-11,000 miles round trip. Most Broadwings migrate to Peru, Brazil, Guatemala, South and Central America. Weather conditions and geographic conditions make them move in mass but not flock.

  • Food

    Broad-winged Hawks feed on small mammals and birds, lizards, frogs, snakes, and invertebrates.

  • Current Resident Birds

    Although he's not a barbecue fan, D.C., the Broad-winged Hawk, moved to Carolina Raptor Center in 2006 from the home of NC barbecue, Lexington, NC. His full name is Devin Cole, named after a CRC volunteer's two sons. His name also resembles his call, which sounds like "D-Ceeeee!" D.C. is very vocal -- shouting his name often.

    Kobrey, the Broad-winged Hawk, is very active during migration season and exhibits this species' natural tendency to want to move during these times of year. Borad-wings are expert migrators, traveling in a large group also known as a "Kettle" because of its resemblance to steam rising off of a kettle. Originally from Clover, SC, she made her home at Carolina Raptor Center in 2005.

    Like US Airways, Morgan, the Broad-winged Hawk, was a Charlotte-based flier before coming to Carolina Raptor Center in 2004 to make her home. Morgan lives on the Raptor Trail with Kobrey, another female broad-winged hawk.

  • Fun Facts & Other Interesting Information

    Ever seen a river of raptors? As Broad-winged Hawks move 4,300 miles from the broad stretches of North America to narrow parts of Central America their numbers get concentrated, leading people to describe places such as Veracruz, Mexico, as a river of raptors flowing overhead.

    Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is tracking the amazing journey of the Broad-winged Hawk from space using satellite telemetry technology. The project is tracing the movements of this long-distance migrant from Pennsylvania to Central and South America, and back. This study marks the first time a telemetry unit has ever been placed on a juvenile Broadwing.