Ferruginous Hawk

The world’s largest soaring hawk, perfectly suited to the open skies and remarkably unafraid of humans often in close proximity


An iconic raptor of the open grasslands and shrub-steppes, characterized by its striking plumage and impressive size. These majestic birds are distinguished by their rusty backs and shoulders, which lend them their name, along with pale heads and white tails. One notable feature is the white patch on the upper wing surface at the base of the flight feathers, a distinctive field mark that aids in their identification. Additionally, their wings exhibit a unique coloration, with brown tops and white undersides, while their legs boast a rusty hue with a dark V-shaped pattern on top and whitish underparts.

Sexual dimorphism is evident in Ferruginous Hawks, with females typically larger than males and displaying similar plumage characteristics. This size difference between the sexes is common in many birds of prey and is thought to be related to the roles each gender plays in reproduction and hunting.

Ferruginous Hawks are known to be migratory, undertaking seasonal movements between breeding and wintering grounds. While some populations may travel long distances, others may migrate shorter distances within their range. Their habitat preferences include arid grasslands and shrub-steppes, where they can find suitable nesting sites and abundant prey.

In terms of diet, they are primarily carnivorous, with small to medium-sized mammals forming the bulk of their prey. They are skilled hunters, preying on jackrabbits, mice, ground squirrels, and other small mammals. Their keen eyesight and powerful talons make them formidable predators in their habitat.


Population est.
United States
Official estimate

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No