White-tailed Hawk

Silhouette HawksHawks

White-tailed Hawk

Geranoaetus albicaudatus
  • ORDER: Accipitriformes
  • FAMILY: Accipitridae
Basic Description

A flash of white in the sky over the prairies of the Texas coast provides the first hint that a White-tailed Hawk is up and hunting. This clean-cut species has long and very broad wings ideal for “kiting”—hanging suspended over their treeless habitat—as they watch for prey. Close up, White-tailed Hawks are a beautiful slate gray with rufous shoulders and a neat black band on the white tail. Like many raptors of grasslands, White-tailed Hawks converge at brush fires, to hunt terrestrial animals fleeing the flames.

More ID Info
image of range map for White-tailed HawkRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

Find This Bird

Fairly common in coastal and southeastern Texas, especially in native prairie and other grasslands, White-tailed Hawks hang in the wind on breezy days as they watch for prey, often from considerable heights. The bright white tail, with black band, is diagnostic—a bold pattern easy to pick out against a blue sky. When not hunting, White-tailed Hawks perch on utility poles, shrubs, and small trees. This species is very scarce in farm country and pastures; watch for it in native prairie (with yuccas and other succulents) and other grasslands.

Other Names
  • Busardo Coliblanco (Spanish)
  • Buse à queue blanche (French)
  • Cool Facts

Looking for ID Help?

Get Instant ID help for 650+ North American birds.

Try Merlin Bird ID