Winter Visitor- Rough-Legged Hawk

Throughout the past couple months, the northern United States has been host to a visiting species of raptor – rough-legged hawks. These buteos spend there summer in the high arctic where the sun never sets. Come November, they jet down south to winter where the weather is milder.

When on a fencepost or telephone pole, you can distinguish the rough-legged hawk from others based on it’s dark chocolate belly, light and speckled bib, and dark eyes.


From below they are a little quicker to identify. Their unique field markers include dark “wrist” patches on the leading edge of the wing, and a thin black band at the base of the tail.

Other than the sporadic bald eagle, rough-legged hawks are the only raptor regularly present during the winter months. The only other birds out in the open have been ravens and magpies. I am excited about the diversity that spring will return to us.



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