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Roadside Hawk Life History


Open Woodlands

Roadside Hawks are birds of forest edges, roadsides, and river borders. They also occur in open forest, agricultural areas, and other open habitats with some trees. This hawk even inhabits São Paulo, Brazil, and other large cities. This species generally does not occur in extensive undisturbed forest or desert. Roadside Hawks are most common at lower elevations, but in some places range up to elevations of 2,500 meters (8,200 feet) in Colombia and 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) in Peru.

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Roadside Hawks are opportunistic feeders that mainly eat insects and small vertebrates. Main prey items vary considerably across the hawk’s range, including insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and small mammals, but important prey items for one population might be of limited importance (or absent altogether) in the diet of other populations. Roadside Hawks forage by sitting on a prominent perch, such as a large branch, telephone pole, or fence post, and then dropping down to seize prey. They also take advantage of army ant swarms and grass fires to catch insects escaping these threats.

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Nest Placement


Nest is typically placed near the top of a tree and often hidden among vine tangles. Nests in mature forest can be 20 meters or more above the ground, while nests in agricultural landscapes are on average lower.

Nest Description

Both sexes contribute to building a large stick nest, 20–46 cm (8–18 inches) wide and 6–36 cm (2.4–14 inches) deep, and line it with green leaves.

Nesting Facts

Clutch Size:1-2 eggs
Incubation Period:33-37 days
Nestling Period:38 days
Egg Description:

White, with brown, chestnut, or purplish markings.

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Aerial Dive (ground/talons)

True to their name, Roadside Hawks frequently perch along roadsides and other clearings. They fly with a burst of wingbeats followed by short glides, and often wag the tail from side to side after landing. Pairs soar noisily around nest sites during courtship displays, but otherwise, this species does not typically soar.

Pairs are very vocal and conspicuous around the nest, which both sexes help build. The female typically incubates 1–2 eggs for about 35 days, with the male providing her with food. The male alone feeds chicks for their first ten days, and is later assisted by the female until the young fledge after about 38 days.

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Least Concern

The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists Roadside Hawk’s conservation status as Least Concern, due to an extremely large range, an increasing population trend, and extremely large population size (estimated at 5–50 million mature individuals).

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Bierregaard, R. O., P. F. D. Boesman, and G. M. Kirwan (2020). Roadside Hawk (Rupornis magnirostris), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal, D. A. Christie, and E. de Juana, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.

BirdLife International. 2020. Rupornis magnirostris. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T22695880A168800737.

Howell, S. N. G., and S. Webb (1995). A Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America. Oxford University Press, New York, NY, USA.

Pearman, M., and J. I. Areta (2021). Birds of Argentina and the South-west Atlantic. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, USA.

Ridgely, R. S., J. A. Gwynne, G. Tudor, and M. Argel (2016). Birds of Brazil: The Atlantic Forest of Southeast Brazil including São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, USA.

Schulenberg, T. S., D. F. Stotz, D. F. Lane, J. P. O’Neill, and T. A. Parker (2007). Birds of Peru. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, USA.

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