Rough-legged Hawk: Large hawk with brown upperparts, paler, streaked head, brown-spotted white breast, and dark breast band. The legs are fully feathered. Wings are mostly pale below and dark-edged. Upper half of tail is white, lower half is finely banded. Uncommon dark phase is brown-black overall.
Range and Habitat
Rough-legged Hawk: Breeds in northern Canada. Spends winters in southern Canada and northern U.S. Prefers open country, upland tundra, plains, and marshes.
The Rough-legged Hawk is a medium-sized bird that may also be known as the Rough-legged Buzzard. This species breeds throughout northern Europe, Asia and North America. During winter months, this species migrates to southern temperate regions of the same continent. Preferred breeding habitats include cliffs, slopes or in trees located in dense woodlands. The Rough-legged Hawk hunts for food over open areas of land, and its diet consists of small mammals and carrion. This bird will also often hover over prey quite often. The conservation rating for the Rough-legged Hawk is Least Concern.
The Rough-legged Hawk was first described in 1763 by Erik Pontoppidan, Danish author, bishop, and historian.
The name "Rough-legged" Hawk refers to the feathered legs. This hawk, the Ferruginous Hawk, and the Golden Eagle are the only American hawks to have legs feathered all the way to the toes.
Their nests sometimes contain the bones of caribou along with sticks.
A group of hawks has many collective nouns, including a "boil", "knot", "spiraling", "stream", and "tower" of hawks.