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Broad-winged Hawk - BirdForum Opus

Light phase
Photo © by NE Birds Plus (Phil Brown)
Essex, Maine, USA, September 2003
Buteo platypterus


Length: 34-44 cm (13.5-17.5 in); wingspan: 81-100 cm (31.75-39.25 in); weight: 275-560 g.
The second smallest buteo in North America, the Broad-winged Hawk is a small, stocky hawk with broad black and white tail bands. Primary 6 generally less pronounced, giving a 4 fingered appearance.

There is a rare dark phase morph.


Photo © by blubird
Bolinas Lagoon, California, October 2003

Breeds in North America and the Caribbean, winters from southern USA to South America.

In summer, the North American range includes from Southern Canada extending west almost to British Columbia to Florida and Texas.

Migrates in large groups called "kettles" from Northern South America to the Eastern United States. Is often observed in large numbers during migration at "hawk watches" throughout the Eastern U.S and Canada.



Photo © by jbissell
Des Moines, Iowa, USA, September 2006

There are 6 subspecies[1]:

  • B. p. platypterus:
  • B. p. cubanensis:
  • B. p. brunnescens:
  • B. p. insulicola:
  • B. p. rivierei:
  • B. p. antillarum]]:
Lesser Antilles (St. Vincent and Grenada) to Tobago


Whilst preferring deciduous forests, is also found in rainforests and second growth, river valleys and coastal sage scrub.


Most often hunts from perches taking various types of prey.


Their diet consists mostly of small mammals, birds, snakes and crocodile eggs.


They are solitary breeders and construct and untidy stick nest in the crotch of a pine or deciduous tree.


The voice is a characteristic whistle.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. BF Member observations
  3. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved Mar 2018)

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