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Rough-legged Hawk Buteo lagopus

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


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Photos from this Account

Adult male light morph

Large hawk with fairly narrow wings. Note the black patches at the wrist and the white tail base with black band at the tip. Males tend to be more mottled on the wings with less of a black belly patch than females.

Immature light morph

Large hawk with relatively narrow wings and a long tail. Note black patches at the wrist. Immatures have a lighter head and extensive black belly patch. The tail is white with a dark tip.

Juvenile light morph

Note light head, mottled brown upperwing, and white tail base with dark band at tip. Juveniles have distinctive white panels in the primaries.

Adult male light morph

Strongly mottled with buff and reddish-brown above. Males have streaky underparts and barred legs. They usually have less of a distinct black belly band than females.

Adult female light morph

Hunts in open country and often perches on the ground. Note pale head and white base of tail with dark tip.

Adult dark morph

Dark morph adults have pale flight feathers giving a two-toned appearance to the underwings. They also usually show white bands in the tail.

Adult dark morph

Dark morphs can be fully chocolate-brown except for pale undersides to the flight feathers, which are not visible when perched. The tail often has narrow white bands, but they can be indistinct. Eye darkens with age.

Adult dark morph

Dark morphs can have variable amounts of mottling on the back, wings, and belly.

Adult male light morph

Males usually have darker heads, a streakier breast, and less of a black belly patch than females. The legs are feathered all the way to the feet, unlike most other hawks.

Adult female light morph

Large hawk with long wings. Female usually has a light head, pale breast, extensive black belly patch, and a white-based tail with black tip.

Adult male light morph

Males have streakier, darker breast than females and often have barred flanks.

Adult male light morph

Feathering extends all the way to the feet, unlike on many other hawks. Males typically have darker chests than females.


Breeds in arctic tundra; usually seen in winter, when it hunts in open country including fields, marshes, prairies, and sagebrush. Perches on telephone poles and on the slender top branches of small trees.

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: