Rough-legged hawk

COMMON NAME: Rough-legged hawkRough-legged Hawk

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Buteo lagopus

IDENTIFYING CHARACTERISTICS:
About the size of a red-tailed hawk, the rough-legged hawk is feathered down the legs to the tops of its feet. It has a variety of color phases, from dark melanistic to light, although it never gets as light as a Krider’s red-tailed hawk. In all color phases there is a very dark band across the chest, and black patches on the underside of the wrist. A white patch at the base of the tail is a good field characteristic.

RANGE:
Breeds in the arctic tundra from Alaska through Canada and into Europe. Is seen in the northern United States during the winter. Rough-legged hawks can usually be found in Minnesota from September to May.

HABITAT:
Can be seen hunting over agricultural fields and grasslands. Typically hovers while searching for prey.

NESTING:
Stick nests are built on cliff ledges and in the tops of trees.

FEEDING HABITS:
Feeds primarily on small rodents such as mice and lemmings.

RAPTOR CENTER DATA:
A few rough-legged hawks are admitted to the clinic each winter, but it is never a common patient.

CONSERVATION NOTES:
The rough-legged hawk is not listed as a species of special concern in the United States.