Three Buteos can be seen here

Buteos are our largest hawks. There are five of these birds in Canada but only three of them would normally be seen here in the northwest.
They are typically large birds, and stocky ones, too. They have wide, rounded wings and tails which are rounded at the ends (not squared off).
When looking for food, they usually soar high in the sky in big, lazy circles. Two of these species make their homes here, and another can be seen during migration.
oRed-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
This is a big hawk, and the one you are most likely to see. A heavy-looking bird, more than two feet long, it has a wingspan of well over four feet.
The upper parts are dark brown, with marks of grey and some reddish feathers. Its underparts are whitish with sort of blotchy streaks across the middle.
But the clear distinguishing mark is the tail–chestnut red–but only on the top. The tail has a narrow black band, and a narrow white one right at the end. This is the only large hawk which is marked in this way.
The Red-tail is much too slow a flier to be able to overtake birds in flight although it may take grouse or other birds on the ground. It lives mainly on small mammals, mice, rabbits, etc., and frogs, toads, and large insects.
Its voice is not very impressive–a sort of rasping squeal.
The next is built in a tree, usually quite far up. It is a bulky structure of sticks, often lined with grass or bark. It is used over and over again.
This hawk breeds all across Canada, and well down into the States.
oBroad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus)
Smaller than the Red-tail, this one is about the size of a small crow. The wings, back, and top of the head are brown. Upper breast is quite red, changing to red and white barring on the belly.
If you see this hawk overhead, the trail is a pretty good trademark.
In adults, it is quite clearly marked (black and white). In young birds, the bands are not as clear but can still be seen fairly well.
Its call is a sort of sad-sounding “whee-ee-ee.” Its food is mainly made up of small rodents and big insects but it is particularly fond of mice and voles.
It breeds all across southern Canada and south to the Gulf of Mexico.
oRough-Legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus)
It breeds far to the north of us–into the Arctic. The coast of Hudson Bay is about as far north as it goes but it winters far to the south of us (California to Virginia).
As with most of these hawks, there are several colour phases to confuse you. The light phase is brown above, and heavily streaked or blotched below. Its tail is just about white, with a thick black band at the end.
The dark phase is almost fully dark brown.
Well, those are our “Buteos.” They form a substantial part of the great hawk migration which rates so much attention in the fall near Duluth. Many thousands of hawks pass through that area, drawing birders from all over the continents.
Remember that hawks are some of the most beneficial birds we have. They keep so many of those pesky little “critters” in check.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Posted in Uncategorized