Ferruginous Hawk

The Ferruginous Hawk is the largest hawk found in North America. It has a gray head and bright white feathers touched with rusty buff feathers near the shoulders on its underside. On its backside, it has rusty colored shoulders with gray-tipped wings and a gray tail.
SCIENTIFIC NAME
Buteo regalis
CLASSIFICATION
Bird
LIFE SPAN
3-20 Years
SIZE
22-27 ” | 2.2-4.6 lbs
STATE CONSERVATION STATUS
  • Priority Species
FEDERAL CONSERVATION STATUS
Least Concern
GAME STATUS
Non-Game
GAME TYPE
None
  1. Washoe
  2. Humboldt
  3. Pershing
  4. Churchill
  5. Mineral
  6. Lyon
  7. Douglas
  8. Carson City
  9. Storey
  1. Elko
  2. Lander
  3. Eureka
  4. White Pine
  1. Esmeralda
  2. Nye
  3. Lincoln
  4. Clark

Habitat & Range

It would be possible to see a Ferruginous Hawk anywhere in Nevada, but they prefer open spaces in grasslands, sagebrush steppe, scrublands, and pinyon-juniper woodland edges. They most often breed in the densest brush and tree populations in eastern and central Nevada.

  • Agricultural Lands
  • Cold desert shrubland and sagebrush
  • Grasslands

Threats

  • Habitat Degradation
  • Habitat Loss
  • Invasive Species

Natural History

Ferruginous Hawks prey on a limited variety of small mammals including pocket gophers and ground squirrels; most often jackrabbits and cottontails. Occasionally, they will eat reptiles, birds, and amphibians. They hunt by standing on the ground and striking, or hopping and running at prey, diving from a nearby perch, searching on the wing, even hoving, or “kiting” in place in the air. Although somtimes nesting in a lone tree or cliffside, these birds usually nest on the ground, often in unsheltered gravel areas, rocky outcrops, haystacks, or in cities on flat gravel roofs. The eggs will be laid directly on the ground or in a nest the pair build together made of sticks, twigs, bark, and sagebrush. The female is able to incubate the eggs in low nests using her excellent camouflage.

Fun Facts

Western Kingbirds, a much smaller bird than the Ferruginous Hawk, will often nest in the same trees, and the Kingbirds will sometimes attack the hawks to keep them away from their young. Ferruginous Hawks, like Golden Eagles, and Rough-legged Hawks have feathers that go all the way down to their toes.