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Alternative name: Rough-legged Hawk
53-63cm (20Â¾-24Â¾ in). Wings long and broad. Light brown to dappled white upperparts; paler, streaked head, brown-spotted white breast, and dark belly band. The legs are fully feathered. Wings are mostly pale below but in typical birds have a dark square at the base of the hand and are dark-edged (sharply demarcated in adults, more diffuse in juveniles). Tail is white with one broad dark subterminal band and 0-5 additional narrow bands close the the subterminal band.
A dark morph occurs, mainly in the North American subspecies, where body and wing-coverts are completely dark but flight feathers and tail are quite typical, almost silvery white in this form. In all forms, a broad white uppertail is diagnostic (a narrow version of this can be seen in Common Buzzard) and usually, a pale base of primaries on the upperside of the wing.
 Similar Species
Can be told from pale Common Buzzards and Red-tailed Hawk in flight by the whitish tail with the single dark bar at the end, the contrasting dark belly patch, and at close range, by the feathered ("rough") legs.
Is more inclined to hover than Common Buzzard, though that will also often do so. In Asia, pale phase Upland Buzzard can be similar, but lacks the dark tail band and belly patch.
Breeds Arctic and subarctic regions of Europe, Asia, Alaska, and Canada; most if not all populations are migratory, wintering south of the breeding areas.
Breeds on arctic and mountain tundra; winters mostly in wilder coastal areas, open prairies, farmland and marshes.
Hunts harrier-like low over the ground with frequent interludes of hovering. Glides with wings markedly angled at carpal joint.
Its diet includes small mammals, mainly lemmings on the breeding grounds, and rabbits and voles on the wintering grounds.
Nests on cliff ledges, trees, or on the ground in high tundra. Two to seven eggs are laid, incubation lasts 28-31 days and after a further 39-45 days, the young fledge.
Quite loud cat-like mee-oo.
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