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.
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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.

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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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