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Galapagos Hawk Facts

Common Name(s): Galapagos Hawk

Scientific Name: Buteo galapagoensis

Approximate Wing Span: 46 - 55 inches, 116 – 140 centimeters

Approximate Life Span: Up to 24 years

Natural Habitat: All type of habitat on the Galapagos Islands. This includes lava-fields, shoreline, forest, and mountains.


The Galapagos Hawk is a large, dark colored bird of prey with both broad wings and a broad tail. Adults have a grey tail that is barred with dark stripes and have an overall brownish-black color. The bill of Galapagos hawks are a greyish black color. At the base of the beak, the skin is yellow along with the legs. Immature Galapagos hawks are blackish-brown underneath. The tail is an off-white color with wavy dark bars and the underparts are a pale yellow-brown color with white spread throughout. Unlike most birds, female Galapagos hawks are noticeably larger than their male counterparts. Galapagos Hawks typically have a bird call that sounds like keeyer, keeyou. They will occasionally make a rapid fire “cher, cher, cher” noise.


Galapagos Hawks are solely found on the Galapagos Islands. The Galapagos Islands are a volcanic archipelago in the Pacific Ocean and a province of Ecuador. Located approximately 620 miles off of the coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands are one of world’s premier destinations for wild-life viewing making them a great home for Galapagos Hawks. The Galapagos Hawk can be found in any and all types of habitat on the islands including mountains, forests, beachside shores, and in fields of lava.

Food & Hunting

Galapagos Hawks have a diet consisting of mostly locusts, giant centipedes, small lava lizards, snakes, and rodents. Galapagos Hawks could be characterized as having an extremely diverse diet for a raptor. Similar to many other types of birds of prey, they will soar above nesting areas and steal the eggs of other animals and other juvenile birds.

Galapagos Hawks will usually hunt in a group of two or three other hawks, flying anywhere between 50 to 200 meters in the sky. If one of the hawks within the group spots a rotting carcass or prey, they will signal to the other members of the group. The dominant hawk within the group will feed until it is satisfied and the other member of the group will wait submissively to feast themselves.

Like many hawks, Galapagos Hawks are fearless of humans and will oftentimes be wandering around human camps scavenging for scraps.

Behavior & Habits

Due to the Galapagos Islands being located so close to the equator, the seasons on the islands do not change and therefore there is no regular mating season for Galapagos hawks. Mating typically occurs when a male will act out a fake attack on a female and then follow the female as she descends into the below trees. Male Galapagos Hawks are typically monogamous, while females have several different mating partners. For the entirety of the nesting period, males and females will share the responsibilities equally of incubating the eggs and protecting the nest.

Captivity Feeding Habits

With a “vulnerable” conservation status, Galapagos Hawks are oftentimes taken into captivity and then released at a future date for various different reasons. During these times of captivity, Galapagos Hawks will typically be fed thawed out frozen mice and .

Interested in learning more information about other types of birds of prey? Visit our birds of prey information center where you can information on hawks, eagles, owls, falcons, and more.


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