Rough-legged Hawk Buteo lagopus

  • Order: Accipitriformes
  • Family: Accipitridae
  • Polytypic: 4 subspecies
  • Authors needed...

The Rough-legged Hawk is a beautiful Arctic-breeding raptor that migrates to central North America for the winter.  Most winter in the northern US and southern Canada, with one center of winter distribution being the central Great Plains.  Snow cover in the north often sends Rough-legs further south; in extreme winters, the species may reach northern Mexico, but otherwise it is absent from the Neotropics.  Rough-legged Hawks are polymorphic and may be anything from all blackish except for silvery underwings to considerably paler on the body, head, and underwings; however, all members of the species have long wings and tails for buteos and show dark carpal patches on the underwings.  The species is often seen in open, treeless areas hovering above the ground before plunging to catch small rodents.

Help complete this species

There are many ways to contribute—we need species information, photographs, audio, video, translations, maps, distribution data, and bird sightings. There's a role for everyone!

Learn more

© Gerrit Vyn

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: