Photo by Martina Nordstrand

Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus)

Adult Broad-winged Hawk by jerryoldenetell

Adult Broad-winged Hawk by jerryoldenetell

Fun Fact

Thanks to GPS tracking, researchers discovered that Broad-winged Hawks migrate an average of 4,350 miles to northern South America, traveling an average of 69 miles per day!


Platypterus is from the Greek platys, "Broad" and pteron, "wing."


5-10 years in the wild, the oldest bird in captivity lived to be 14 years old.

Conservation status

IUCN Least Concern.


A small and stocky buteo found in the forest. As an adult they are brown on top with reddish or rofous barring underneath. Come in two different phases with the lighter coloring more common than the very rare dark variation. Its medium-short tail is dark with one thick white band in the middle and a thinner bar near the both the base of the tail and the tip. Bark brown as adult and rufous barred underbody. Juvenile is similar but with a streaked white underbody and and a buff colored tail with dark bands.


34-44 cm (13.4-17.3 in)


81-100 cm (31.9-39.4 in)


265-560 g (9.3-19.8 oz)


Mainly found on the eastern half the United States, down into Florida. Also found in Canada as far west as Alberta. Non-migratory in the Caribbean, while population in the North will migrate into Central and South America during the winter months. (Range map below)


These hawks breed in continuous deciduos or mixed deciduous forest and winter in tropicalforests. Prefers a good canopy on the edges of the forest, next to clearings or open woodland. Forest edges and clearings or open woodland with a good canopy. Also seen by wetlands and in lowlands during the winter months.


Bulk of diet includes small mammals, reptiles, amphibians and large insects. Occasionaly will go after birds. Will sometime forage for insects while flying and eating them during flight.


Solitary or in pairs, and is secretive while perching in the canopy. They are more easily seen during migration when they are in flocks or "kettles" of just a few or thousands. During breeding season, a pair may circle high and do swoops at one another in the air. This is a horizontal dance mimicing a rollercoaster as well as diving.


Season goes from March through July. They build a rough stick nest, sometimes using the base of an old raptor, corvid or squirrel nest. The nest is lined with bark chips and leaves of oak or pine. Typical clutch size of 2-3 eggs with an incubation period of 28-31 days. Fledging occurs at 39-41 days.

Broad-winged Hawk by Ir3127

Broad-winged Hawk by Ir3127

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InfoNatura: Animals and Ecosystems of Latin America [web application]. 2007. Version 5.0 . Arlington, Virginia (USA): NatureServe. Available: (Accessed: October 24, 2012 ).

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