STATUS IN THE WILD: Least Concern
PHYSICAL FEATURES AND CHARACTERISTICS
Broad-winged hawks are small and compact raptors with short, rounded bodies and heads. They typically measure one to two feet in length. Their heads are reddish-brown with a lighter color striped underside. They have short and rounded tails that have broad black and white bands. While they are flying, their wings come to a distinct point.
LIFESTYLE AND REPRODUCTION
This species hunts food from a perch rather than from flight. They wait in the trees below the canopy and search for prey. When something is spotted, the hawk swoops down to capture the prey in its talons. During migration they can travel around 70 miles each day, totaling an average of 4,350 miles each year. They form miraculous flocks, called kettles, in Mexico and Central America. Sometimes thousands can be seen along ridges, coastlines, or lake shores and are often called a ‘river of raptors.’
Courting birds, or potential mates, perform sky-dancing displays, during which they circle high in the air and plummet towards the ground. Some breeding pairs stay together multiple years, others change partners each breeding season. The female does most of the nest construction with assistance from the male. The nest is made from sticks and other found materials that are carried to the nesting site with their talons. Females will typically lay two or three eggs that are mostly white with brown spots. They are incubated for about a month, during which the male will bring the female food. After hatching, the female will remain at the nest for another one to two weeks while the male continues to deliver food. Offspring learn to fly around five or six weeks and are completely independent soon after.
Broad-winged hawks spend the summer in Canada and North America and then migrate down through Mexico to spend the winter in Central and northern South America.
They live in dense forests and spend most of the time hidden underneath the canopy. During migration, they fly along the coast and mountains in large flocks.
Broad-winged hawks eat mostly small amphibians, mammals, and insects.