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Ferruginous Hawk


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

Found in prairies, deserts, and open range of the West, the regal Ferruginous Hawk hunts from a lone tree, rock outcrop, or from high in the sky. This largest of North American hawks really is regal—its species name is regalis—with a unique gray head, rich, rusty (ferruginous) shoulders and legs, and gleaming white underparts. A rarer dark-morph is reddish-chocolate in color. Ferruginous Hawks eat a diet of small mammals, sometimes standing above prairie dog or ground squirrel burrows to wait for prey to emerge.


  • Calls
  • Courtesy of Macaulay Library
    © Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

When alarmed, adults and fledglings give a scratchy scream reminiscent of a Herring Gull’s call. Young nestlings give short cheeps.

Other Sounds

Ferruginous Hawks make a loud whooshing sound when diving, for example when defending their nests.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Find This Bird

Look for Ferruginous Hawks in the open country of the West, where they may be just a speck soaring high in the sky—albeit a brilliantly white speck, as light-morph Ferruginous Hawks are strikingly pale and distinctive. These birds also perch on telephone poles and also on the ground, where they can be hard to spot. In these wide open spaces, learning to tell their shape at long distances is key to finding them: look for their long, relatively narrow and somewhat pointed wings, much different from a Red-tailed Hawk’s silhouette. Also note their tendency to fly with their wings in a dihedral V shape—slightly raised above the horizontal.

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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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