Friday, April 12, 2013

Rough-legged Hawk

Rough-legged Hawk - Buteo Lagopus

The species name means "hare's foot," and refers to the feathered "leggings" that reach all the way to the feet of this Buteo. 

The Rough-legged Hawk is a spring migrant that nests in the Arctic or Subarctic. When northern lemming numbers are high, more Rough-legged Hawks are fledged. Eggs are laid a day or two apart and in years with food shortage this insures only the first chicks laid will likely survive, since the older chicks out-complete with the younger siblings. 

All the food is caught on the ground either from a perch or dropping down from a hover. Mice, ground squirrels, and hare are the principle prey. The Rough-legged Hawk favours lower perches than the Red-winged. 

Plumage polymorphism (distinct, non-clinal, light and dark plumages that occur within a brood) occurs in these Buteos, as with Swainson's and Ferruginous hawks. The long white tail with a single or multiple dark bands is a good identification feature.  


The Atlas of Breeding Birds of Alberta. Federation of Alberta Naturalists. 2007.

Baicich PJ, Harrison CJO. Nests, Eggs, and Nestlings of North American Birds. Princeton UP. 2005.

Dunne P, Sibley D, Sutton C. Hawks in Flight. Houghton Mifflin Co. Boston. 1988.

Fisher C, Acorn J. Birds of Alberta. Lone Pine Publishing. Edmonton. 1998.

Sibley David A. The Sibley Guide to Bird Life & Behavior. Alfred A Knopf, Inc. New York. 2001.

Scotter GW, Ulrich TJ, Jones EJ. Birds in the Canadian Rockies. Prairie Books. Saskatoon. 1990.

Tudge Colin. The Bird. Crown Publishers. New York. 2008.

No comments: