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Ferruginous Hawk Facts

Common Name(s): Ferruginous Rough-leg, chap-hawk, eagle hawk, Ferruginous Buzzard, gopher hawk, rusty squirrel hawk

Scientific Name: Buteo regalis

Approximate Wing Span: 52.4–55.9 in, 133–142 cm

Approximate Life Span: About 20 years

Natural Habitat: Prairies, badlands and plains

Habitat & Description

The Ferruginous Hawk is the largest North American hawk primarily living in the Mid-West of the United States. This long and broad winged raptor nests in trees and hunts in the open country for a variety of small mammals. Formally, the Ferruginous Hawk was known to use bison bones as a resource to construct their nests. This resulted in extremely strong and resilient nests to raise their young.

This bird of prey is characterized as having a very large whitish, grey head with a yellow gape. They fly with their golden brown wings held in a distinct V-shape. Once in flight, it is easy to spot the raptor’s white underbelly.

Food & Hunting

As stated, the Ferruginous Hawk primarily preys on medium sized mammals in the open country locations including prairies, badlands and plains. In the wild, these birds mainly hunt for jackrabbits, squirrels, prairie dogs and other smaller rodents. Their wide gape enables these birds to swallow larger mammals than most raptors. If these birds are rescued by animal sanctuaries or zoos, they are primarily fed frozen mice, rats and quail.

When hunting, the Ferruginous Hawk often perch in raised areas or stand over mammal burrows. Also, these raptors are known to hover in the air and scour the area below for prey. In fact, these birds of prey commonly watch the hunting patterns of red-tailed hawks to discover rich mammal populations.

Behavior & Habits

The Ferruginous Hawk is known to be a monogamous bird of prey that often forms long-term bonds. The male typically hunts for food while the female tends for the young. Once their young start catching prey, the adults typically leave the hunting territory. Unfortunately, the young have a high mortality rate because of starvation and power line injuries.

As stated, Ferruginous Hawks usually eat small mammals in the wild and are commonly fed frozen rodents in captivity. Thus, if you are an owner of this amazing bird of prey shop for quality frozen rodents at Rodent Pro. We have a large selection of frozen feeders including frozen mice, frozen rats, frozen quail, frozen chicks and more. Our rodents have been chosen by top zoos, animal sanctuaries and exotic care takers for years.


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