A large (19-24 inches), dark bird, the Rough-legged Hawk may be best identified by its grayish-brown back, light face, and by the black band on the end of its broad, white tail. Seen from below, this hawk may also be identified by dark belly, black-tipped wings, and dark “wrist” patches. A dark morph also exists that is darker brown above and on the wings but retains this species’ basic color pattern. Like most species of raptors, females are larger than males. The Rough-legged Hawk is found across the Northern Hemisphere. In North America, this species breeds in western Alaska and northern Canada east to Labrador. Rough-legged Hawks migrate south for the winter, when they may be found in southern Canada, Newfoundland, and in the United States south to New Mexico in the west and Virginia in the east. In the Old World, this species breeds in Scandinavia and arctic Russia, wintering south to Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and East Asia. Rough-legged Hawks are birds of open country. In summer, this species breeds on tundra and on rocky sections of the arctic coastline. In winter, this species inhabits open grassland, fields, deserts, and marshes. Rough-legged Hawks eat small mammals, including lemmings, mice, and voles. Rough-legged Hawks soar over open habitat while scanning the ground for prey, dropping down to capture it with their talons. Due to this species’ habitat requirements and hunting technique, it may be easiest to observe Rough-legged Hawks in the air. In winter, may also be seen roosting at dusk in trees near feeding grounds. This species is primarily active during the day.
- Bechard, Marc J. and Theodor R. Swem. 2002. Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/641
- Peterson, Roger Tory. Birds of Eastern and Central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1980. Print.
- eBird Range Map - Rough-legged Hawk. eBird. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, N.d. Web. 20 July 2012. http://ebird.org/ebird/map/rolhaw.
- Buteo lagopus. Xeno-canto. Xeno-canto Foundation, n.d. Web. 20 July 2012. http://xeno-canto.org/browse.php?query=Buteo+lagopus.
- Rough-legged Buzzard (Buteo lagopus). The Internet Bird Collection. Lynx Edicions, n.d. Web. 20 July 2012. http://ibc.lynxeds.com/species/rough-legged-buzzard-buteo-lagopus.
@Bruce Brummitt: You are correct. Interestingly, this error was corrected in a draft of our import spreadsheet which was uploaded but never imported or published. Although I have just re-uploaded the spreadsheet, this is now the second time we have encountered such a problem. I will probably need get in touch with my contacts at EOL to see if this is a systemic issue, so I thank you for pointing this out.
The second sentence in the article, " Seen from above, this hawk may also be identified by dark belly, black-tipped wings, and dark “wrist” patches.", might more accurately say "Seen from below, ...". One doesn't view the belly from above, and the dark wrist patches are surely on the underside of the wing.