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Broad-winged Hawk Buteo platypterus


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Broad-winged Hawk, adult
credit: JulieFromVT/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Accipitridae, Hawks and Eagles view all from this family

Description ADULT Light morph has brown upperparts including head; throat is pale, with dark malar stripe, breast is reddish brown and otherwise pale underparts are marked with broad, reddish brown bars. In flight, seen from below, note mainly pale wings with dark tips and trailing edge, barred brown body and inner wing coverts, pale vent, and striking, broad white band on otherwise dark tail (indistinct, narrow second band sometimes discernible near base of tail feathers). Adult dark morph is uniformly dark brown when perched, except for pale band on tail; in flight, flight feathers are pale, but with dark trailing edge and primary tips. JUVENILE Light morph is similar to adult, but underparts are usually paler, with less extensive brown barring; in flight, from below, looks pale except for gray trailing edge and wingtips, and gray-barred tail.

Dimensions Length: 13-15" (33-38 cm); Wngspn: 33" (84 cm)

Habitat Common summer visitor (mainly May-Aug) to forests. Winters in South America. Migrants avoid crossing water and in fall funnel through southern Texas before passing south through Central America; spring migrants follow reverse route.

Observation Tips Migrates in huge numbers and sizeable groups ("kettles") utilize thermal updrafts to gain lift. Well-known migration watchpoints are easy to find on the web.

Range Florida, Plains, New England, Rocky Mountains, Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Texas, Eastern Canada, Southwest, Western Canada, California

Voice Utters a shrill, almost electronic-sounding, tuee-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee call.

Discussion Our smallest Buteo hawk. Unobtrusive and easily overlooked: perches for long periods in woodland cover. In flight, note broad and rather pointed wings and medium-length tail. Sexes are similar; rare dark morph exists.