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Broad-winged Hawk Facts

Common Name(s): Just the Broad-winged Hawk

Scientific Name: Buteo platypterus

Approximate Wing Span: 31.9–39.4 in, 81–100 cm

Approximate Life Span: Average of 12 years – oldest being about 18 years

Natural Habitat: Forest


The Broad-winged Hawk is a small, stocky-bodied bird of prey with a larger head in comparison to its body. This raptor has black-and-white bands on its tail with a reddish-brown head and barred underparts. When in flight, this raptor’s broad wings come to a point with a short and square tail. The underpart of the wings have a dark brown border and can be distinctively seen when soaring through the forest.


Broad-winged Hawks reside in the eastern part of North America and in the upper-left region of South America. Within these regions, these hawks tend to spend most of their time underneath deciduous and mixed forest canopies. You will never find these hawks near humans as they nest far from human interaction near forest openings and water. This bird of prey is famous for its large migration in extremely large flocks along coastlines and mountain ranges to forested regions in North and South America.

Food & Hunting

Broad-winged Hawks have a diet consisting of mostly amphibians, small mammals, rodent feeders and even insects. More specifically, these raptors eat frogs, toads, small rodents, nestlings, juvenile birds, mantises, crickets, caterpillars, click beetles, flies, earthworms, crabs, spiders, ground beetles, junebugs, ants and many more insects. As you can see, the Broad-winged Hawk is not picky at all when it comes to food.

Like many other types of birds of prey, Broad-winged Hawks utilize the trees to perch from tree limbs to scan the ground below. Once prey is spotted, they will swoop down and catch it.

Behavior & Habits

Broad-winged Hawks are known to take short flights form branch to branch and usually stay in a small area when they find an optimal location to roost. These birds of prey also exhibit playful behavior by soaring in circles above the forest canopy during breeding season.

These raptors are famous for their incredible migration along coastlines and mountain ranges in large flocks leaving the northern forests in North America to South America. These large flocks can contain thousands of Broad-winged Hawks making it a large attraction for many hawk watchers.

In Captivity – Feeding Habits

As stated, Broad-winged Hawks usually eat small ground mammals in the wild and much more types of food. Thus, when these hawks are rescued they usually are fed thawed frozen feeder mice and frozen rats.


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