Ferruginous Hawks, Buteo regalis
Ferruginous Hawks have a range that spans from the Great Plains region of the United States and Canada to parts of Mexico. They inhabit a variety of open habitats, including grasslands, prairies, shrublands, and deserts. They prefer areas with sparse vegetation and suitable prey populations.
They are one of the largest North American hawks, with a wingspan of up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) and a body length of about 2 feet (0.6 meters). They have a distinctive light-colored plumage, with a rusty or pale brown back and a white or pale underside. Their legs are feathered all the way down to their toes,
Ferruginous Hawks are skilled hunters that primarily feed on small mammals. Their diet consists mainly of ground squirrels, rabbits, and other rodents. They have adapted to hunt on the ground, using their sharp eyesight to spot prey from a high perch or while soaring. They use a combination of soaring, hovering, and pouncing techniques to catch their prey. In addition to mammals, they may also feed on birds, reptiles, and insects when available.
Ferruginous Hawks build large stick nests, often reusing and expanding old nests built by other raptors or even repurposing structures like tree stumps. They locate their nests in tall trees, shrubs, or on cliff ledges. The nests are constructed by both the male and female and are lined with softer materials such as grass, leaves, and sometimes feathers. They typically build their nests in open habitats with unobstructed views of the surrounding area.
Females lay 2 to 4 eggs, each laid at intervals of about 2 to 3 days. Incubation lasts around 30 to 36 days and is primarily performed by the female, while the male provides food. After hatching, both parents participate in raising and feeding the young. The chicks are initially fed a diet of small prey, and as they grow, they are gradually introduced to larger prey. The parents play a crucial role in teaching the young hawks hunting techniques and survival skills.
The fledging period for Ferruginous Hawks occurs approximately 45 to 50 days after hatching. The young hawks leave the nest and begin to explore nearby perches, gradually strengthening their flight muscles and honing their hunting abilities. The parents continue to provide food and guidance during this period.
Ferruginous Hawks are generally non-migratory birds. However, some individuals and populations may undertake local or short-distance movements in search of food or in response to changing weather conditions.