Broad Winged Hawks
The scientific name comes from the Latin word buteo, which refers to a kind of falcon or hawk; and the Greek words platys, meaning broad or wide, and pteron, denoting a wing. This bird has been called a Broad-winged Buzzard.
Broad-winged hawks belong to the same family as the common red-tailed hawk, but are smaller. They are not much larger than a crow. Broad-winged hawks are most often seen in Illinois at migration time when they may form huge flocks. Their migrations are very precise, usually occurring in mid-April and mid-September. Most of the hawks passing through Illinois have bred in Canada, Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin. They prefer to rest in heavily forested areas, but may be seen in parks as well. Soaring groups of birds circle together in formations known as "kettles."
The Broad-winged Hawk has a body length of 13 - 17 inches, a 3-foot wingspan, and weighs 11 - 17 ounces. Broad-wings are the smallest of the North American buteo hawks.
This hawk lives in deciduous and mixed woodlands from southcentral Canada to the eastern United States. Broad-winged Hawks migrate in large numbers into Central and South America.
Broad-winged Hawks have a varied diet of small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects. This hawk hunts from a perch concealed within the trees or at the edge of a clearing and while flying at canopy level.
A stick nest is built close to the tree trunk or another birdís nest is used. The female lays 2 - 3 eggs that are incubated for 28 - 31 days. Young hawks
fledge in a month, but are fed by their parents for 3 more weeks. Birds are sexually mature in 1 - 2 years.
Red-shouldered Hawk is similar in adult plumage but has reddish shoulders, a pale crescent in the wings, lacks the distinct black border to the trailing edge of the wing, and the white bands on the tail are much narrower than the black bands. Immatures can be distinguished by shape and crescent-shaped pale window in outer primaries. Dark morph Swainson's Hawk has pale undertail coverts. Other dark buteos are much larger with much broader wings (Red-tailed, Rough-legged, and Ferruginous). Immature dark morph Short-tailed Hawk has darker secondaries that contrast with the pale primaries and does not overlap with the range of the dark morph Broad-winged Hawk.
Interesting Facts about Broad Winged Hawks
- The juvenile and adult plumage of the Broad-winged Hawk is similar to the juvenile and adult plumage of the Cooperís Hawk.
- There is a single mainland and 5 Caribbean subspecies of the Broad-winged Hawk. The subspecies endemic to Puerto Rico is endangered with a total population of about 100 birds.