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Buzzards

Species Of Buzzards

The largest, most widespread and familiar species of buzzard in North America is the red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis). This species breeds in almost all regions below the arctic tundra, and as far south as Panama and the West Indies. The red-tailed hawk nests in trees at or near the edge of woodlands, but feeds in open country. The plumage of the red-tailed hawk is quite variable, but adults have a reddish top of their tail. Northern populations migrate to the south in winter, although they will stay quite far north if an abundance of their prey of small mammals is available.

The red-shouldered hawk (B. lineatus) is a common species of the eastern United States and southeastern Canada, with a separate, disjunct population in coastal California and Oregon. This species commonly hunts from perches. Northern populations winter in the southeastern states.

The broad-winged hawk (B. platypterus) is a relatively small and common woodland species of the eastern United States and southeastern Canada. This species usually hunts for small mammals, reptiles, and insects from a perch in a tree. During the autumn the broad-winged hawk migrates in spectacular flocks, which occur as large groups riding thermals in a southerly direction. This species winters from southern Mexico to northern South America.

The rough-legged hawk (B. lagopus) breeds in the northern tundra of Canada and Alaska and winters in open habitats of the United States. This species also breeds throughout the tundra of northern Eurasia, from Scandinavia to eastern Siberia. The rough-legged hawk commonly hunts while hovering in the air.

The ferruginous hawk (B. regalis) is a buzzard of prairies and other open habitats of western North America, wintering in the southwestern States and Mexico. Swainson's hawk (B. swainsoni) is another western species of open habitats, breeding from central Alaska to northern Mexico. This species migrates in flocks, and winters in Argentina.

A common buzzard (Buteo buteo) perched in a spruce. (Photograph by H. Reinhard/Okapia. National Audubon Society Collection/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

Other species of buzzards in North America are relatively uncommon and localized in their distributions. These include the Harlan's hawk (B. harlani), Harris' hawk (B. unicinctus), and the zone-tailed hawk (B. albonotatus).

The common buzzard (Buteo buteo) breeds widely in Europe and northern Asia. Northern populations of this species are migratory, but southern populations are sedentary, as long as there is sufficient prey of small mammals available to support their needs. The long-legged buzzard (B. rufinus

) has a more southern Eurasian distribution.


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