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Broad-winged Hawk

Buteo platypterus

Length: 13 - 18 inches Wingspan: 32 - 38 inches Seasonality: Migrant / Summer
ID Keys: Broad bands on tail, dark brown upperparts, reddish barred underparts

Broad-winged Hawk - Buteo platypterusThe Broad-winged Hawk is the smallest of the North American Buteos.  They are generally found near forest edges and clearings.  During migration, thousands may congregate along ridgelines and coastlines or other locations with favorable wind conditions. Relatively tame, Broad-winged Hawks can often be approached more closely than most hawks.

Habitat: Breeds in deciduous or mixed forest, generally near clearings.  Prefers locations near water.  During migration, they may be found in nearly any habitat, but generally roost in forest at night.

Diet: Will feed on a wide variety of items, including small mammals, frogs, snakes, lizards, small birds, large insects, and earthworms.

Behavior: Usually hunts from a perch, often along forest and woodland edges and near water.  During courtship, pairs may be seen circling high in the sky together, calling to each other. 

Nesting: May through July

Song: Shrill one-pitch whistle, usually given in flight 

Migration: Summers throughout most of the eastern United States, and southeastern and south-central Canada.  Long distance migrants, most fly to South America for the winter.

Interactive eBird Map: Click to access an interactive eBird map of Broad-winged Hawk sightings

Similar Species: Red-shouldered Hawk, Short-tailed Hawk, Common Black-Hawk.   Click here for a page that describes differences between the "Buteo" hawk species, and identification keys for each.

Conservation Status: Generally stable throughout its range.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Broad-winged Hawk

2) WhatBird - Broad-winged Hawk

3) Audubon Guide - Broad-winged Hawk

Photo Information: Photo by Terry Sohl - May 4th, 2015 - Big Sioux Recreation Area near Brandon, South Dakota.


Click on the range map for a higher-resolution view
Broad-winged Hawk - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Common migrant in the northeast part of the state, uncommon elsewhere.  Rare to uncommon summer resident in the Black Hills, and the extreme northeastern and southeastern corners of the state.
 Additional Broad-winged Hawk Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
Broad-winged Hawk - Buteo platypterusBroad-winged Hawk - Buteo platypterusBroad-winged Hawk - Buteo platypterusBroad-winged Hawk - Buteo platypterusBroad-winged Hawk - Buteo platypterus