Photo by Sue Ernisse

Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis)

Fun Fact

When bison ruled the west, Ferruginous Hawks would use bison bones and wool to help build their nest.


"Ferruginous" comes from the Latin ferrugo "Rust" for the rufous color seen on adult birds. Regalis means "royal" which is a reference to the Ferruginous Hawks size.

Conservation status

IUCN Least Concern


A banded FEHA lived 20 years in the wild.


The largest American buteo with the adults being rufous and white. Large head, obvious long yellow gape line and broad chest. Long wings with light area near tips, with a medium light grey or whitish tail and feathered legs down to toes. Light and dark morphs seen with only about 10% being dark.

Underside of Ferruginous Hawk by Allen Vernon

Underside of Ferruginous Hawk by Allen Vernon


22-27.2 in (55.8-69.1 cm)


52.4-55.9 in (133cm – 142 cm)


34.5 – 73.2 oz (977-2074 g)


Found in western part of Nearctic and breeds in Southwest Canada and Western US. Found in arid to semiarid regions, grasslands and agricultural areas. Migratory for northern birds and sedentary for southern birds. Winters in the Southwest and West-central US and into Mexico. (Range map below)


Found in dry open country, prairie, desert uplands, and sometimes cliffs and rocky outcrops. Attracted to recently burnt areas. Spends winters in open woodland.


Diet consists of mainly small to medium sized mammals. Also some birds, reptiles and snakes, amphibians and large insects. Commonly hunts from a perch or on the wing swooping onto prey, may hover or do a high or low searching flight or even hunt from the ground.


Solitary or in pairs. Family groups also seen, though some juveniles do leave. Not generally seen in groups on migration. High-circling can be seen by one or both mates.


Season extends from April through August. Large stick nest averaging 1 meter across and 1-2m deep. Lined with leaves, bark, roots, dung and bones. Clutch size is 3-4 eggs with an incubationperiod of 28-33 days. Chicks fledge at 38-40 days.

Ferruginous Hawk on nest by Bryant Olsen

Ferruginous Hawk on nest by Bryant Olsen

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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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