large Buteo of the
latitudes, the Rough-legged hawk inhabits the tundra, taiga and open
forests of Northern Alaska, the far north of Canada, and northernmost
and Asia, migrating south in North America in September to winter in
For reasons unclear, migrating males tend to winter further south in
the states than do females, and adults migrate a month before
Rough-leggeds come in lighter and darker phases, are 1 to 2 feet long from beak to tail, and have about a 4 foot wing span. Rough Leggeds are among the raptors to display sexual dimorphism, most obvious in the lighter phases. Females have darker bellies and solid tail bands, while males have vertically barred bellies, and thinner tail bands.
“rough-legged” refers to a feature found also
in Ferruginous hawks and Golden eagles, namely the feathers covering
right down to its relatively short toes, providing insulation and
helping to minimize heat loss in a colder environment.
voles, lemmings, other small mammals, and
occasionally small birds,
dives, and, like Ospreys, hovering
frequently while hunting. They will also eat carrion. It is believed
that Rough Leggeds can see in ultraviolet, which assists the hawks in
spotting concentrations of vole activity, through the reflection from
vole feces and urine.
mainly on cliffs, slopes or in trees,
producing clutches of one-to-seven eggs, in nests of large sticks,
sometimes contain caribou bones, and are lined with soft grasses and
sedges.In times of prey shortage, the clutch will be much smaller.
Pepper, a large female, was being rehabbed in Oregon, after being shot by some jerk. She was, judged non-releasable because of her wing. We understand subsistance hunting, but why shoot an animal you're not going to eat, particularly a raptor involved in rodent control? Pepper came to the Refuge in June 2009.
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Adirondack Wildlife Refuge & Rehabilitation Center
Steve & Wendy Hall
PO Box 555, 977 Springfield Road, Wilmington, NY 12997
Toll Free: 855-Wolf-Man (855-965-3626)
Cell Phones: 914-715-7620 or 914-772-5983
Office Phone: 518-946-2428
Email us: info@AdirondackWildlife.org