Photo by Thorsten Spoerlein

Common Black Hawk (Buteogallus anthracinus)

Fun Fact

Performs a talon-touching aerial courtship display.

Conservation Status

IUCN Least Concern


Large hawk, nearly all black with white patch just behind bill. Bill and feet are bright orange-yellow. Tail is black with single, thick white band and thin, white tip. Sexes are similar. Juvenile is brown-streaked with dark brown back, barred underwings, and finely banded tail.


43–53 cm (16–20 in)


930g on average.


127 cm (50 inches)


Found in southwestern U.S., throughout Mexico, Central America, and northern South America to Guyana. Inhabit coastal lowlands of mixed savannah, dunes, ponds, lagoons and grasslands.


Feeds mainly on crabs, but will also take small vertebrates and eggs. Also feds on snakes, frogs, fish, and young birds; may supplement diet with insects.


Often seen soaring, with occasional lazy flaps, and has a talon-touching aerial courtship display.


Common Black-Hawk: One to three white eggs, sometimes marked with brown, are laid in nest made of dry sticks and mistletoe. Nest is usually built within 500 feet of permanent flowing water and is typically constructed 60 to 120 feet above the ground. Incubation lasts for 38 to 39 days and is carried out both parents.

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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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