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Short-tailed Hawk

Silhouette HawksHawks
Short-tailed HawkButeo brachyurus
  • ORDER: Accipitriformes
  • FAMILY: Accipitridae

Basic Description

A sharply marked, trim raptor of subtropical woodlands, the Short-tailed Hawk is often first seen as a speck soaring high in the sky, scanning for prey. They occur in dark morphs (more frequent in Florida) with blackish-brown plumage offset by silvery white barring in the wings and tail; or as light morphs with brown upperparts and neat white underparts. These unusual hawks hunt on high for birds, stooping down on them in sudden dives and picking them right off their perches.

More ID Info
image of range map for Short-tailed Hawk
Year-roundBreedingMigrationNonbreeding
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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Find This Bird

Short-tailed Hawks are fairly numerous across their broad range in the Americas, but can be hard to find as they soar high in the air. In Florida, home to only about 500 individuals, try the autumn hawkwatch in the Florida Keys. In winter, Key West often has a few soaring high over town by 10 a.m., as well as parts of Everglades National Park (especially Fish-eating Creek). Scan the sky along forest edges, and remember that these dark birds often hold their wings slightly raised, making them look like vultures.

Other Names

  • Busardo Colicorto (Spanish)
  • Buse à queue courte (French)
  • Cool Facts

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