A Broad Winged Hawk is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Broad Winged Hawks. We have also put together a list of fun Broad Winged Hawk t-shirts, Broad Winged Hawk bird patches, bird houses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers and other fun bird watching items.
About Broad Winged Hawks
Broad-winged hawks’ migration has become one of the world’s greatest spectacles as they move to South America. The migration attracts a lot of bird watchers as they stretch their flying formation with flocks of up to a hundred thousand. The oldest broad-winged hawk was 18 years and 4 months old.
Description and Identification
Broad-winged Hawks are relatively small and compact compared to the other species in the
same genus. Their body sizes range between 13 – 17 inches with a short tail from 5.7 – 7.5
inches. Unique to the species, they have short and broad wings which taper towards pointed
ends. The wingspan ranges from 29 – 39 inches which include the extended wing bones
between 9 – 12 inches. Like many species, the females are larger than the males. The
adults have reddish-brown heads with barred underparts and broad black and white bands
on their tails. The juveniles are usually light brown with longitudinal white barring rather
than the dark horizontal ones found in adults.
Broad Winged Hawk Color Pattern
Broad-winged hawks have brown heads with bared breasts and wide white and black stripes on its tail. Their wing underside is paler with dark brown borderlines. Rare adults are completely dark brown with banded tails.
Broad Winged Hawk Size
The broad-winged hawks are relatively smaller than the ordinary hawks with thick bodies and head. Both sexes have a general size of:
- Length 34 – 44 cm
- Weight 265 – 560 g
- Wingspan 81 – 100 cm
Broad Winged Hawk Behavior
In the dense forest, they take flight from one branch to another and fly above the canopy during the mating season to defend their territory. Similar to other hawks, the broad-winged hawk performs sky dances to court a female. Some pairs tend to be together for years and build nest a mile apart from the next pair. Broad-winged hawks mostly interact with their mates only but during fall and spring, they may form flocks of thousands of individuals.
What Broad Winged Hawk Eat
Broad-tailed Hawks are carnivores and primarily feed on small mammals, amphibians, and
insects. During summers, their diets consist of substantial amounts of small mammals like
chipmunks, rodents, and moles. The other main components of their diet mainly include
amphibians like frogs and snakes, and invertebrates like grasshoppers, crickets, ants,
caterpillars, and other insects. Their excellent eyesight allows them to scout for prey from
high elevations and dives down to catch prey. They have been observed to prepare some of their preys before consumption, such as skinning snakes and frogs or defeathering small
birds. However, most of what they consume is eaten whole.
Most of their diet is made up of small mammals, amphibians, and insects. They hunt using lethal dives from their perches.
Where Broad Winged Hawks Live
These raptors breed in deciduous or mixed forests along with the United States and southern
Canada. The migrants tend to roost along forest edges, uplands, and arid tropical scrubs.
Some birds that go to regions around the Florida Keys winter in mango and avocado groves
along with undisturbed hardwood stands on the larger keys in the West Indies. The birds that
move on towards southern Mexico and central South America prefer forests and forest
edges in upland sites. The subspecies that breed on the Caribbean islands do not
migrate and stays in the same region all year long.
They grace the eastern side of the United States nesting near forest edges and sources of water, but far from man-made habitats. Most go through the winter season in forests from Mexico to Bolivia.
Range and Migration
The enormous flocks of Broad-winged Hawks circling the skies during migration is a
spectacular annual sight. These small hawks are long-distant migrants that travel thousands
of miles in North and South America. The sub-species of these birds are found scattered
across the two continents, with the migratory patterns varying based on where the birds
spend the summers in. They range from southern Canada to southern Brazil. The birds that
breed in northern and eastern America migrate to regions around Florida, the Caribbean,
and northern South America for winters. The birds are nicknamed “kettles” and are a popular
tourist attraction in regions along the Atlantic coast of North America during migrations,
owing to the large number of birds resembling a “river of raptors”. The species that breed in
the Caribbean are endemic to the region and do not migrate.
Broad Winged Hawk Lifecycle
Broad-winged hawks nest in the lower part of the canopy within their territory. The female constructs the nest from dead sticks and bark chips. Females lay a minimum of 1 egg and a maximum of 5 eggs during a breeding season. The eggs are incubated for 28 to 31 days. The nestling period is 35 to 42 days before a hatchling can leave the nest.
Broad Winged Hawk Nesting
Their nests can be found in many varieties of deciduous and coniferous trees like yellow
birch, red pine, white pine, white birch, and white oak. They tend to choose sites away from
human disturbances and make their nests along with the lower third of a canopy. Breeding pairs
can pair for multiple years and often reuse their old nests, potentially due to the males of the
species being more active in raising the chicks. Most of the nest construction is done by the
females while the males’ aid in finding supplies. Dead sticks are used to make the structure
with fresh plant sprigs and bark chips making the cup. The nest can be filled with softer
materials like moss later. Each brood has approximately 1 – 5 eggs in a clutch.
Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes
At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.
Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Broad Winged Hawks
The most common types of bird watching binoculars for viewing Broad Winged Hawks are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.
Broad Winged Hawk T-shirts
If you love the Broad Winged Hawk you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.
Broad Winged Hawk Iron On Patches
Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron-on patches. Our bird-watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen and identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.
The Broad Winged Hawk is a great iron-on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.
Broad Winged Hawk Stickers
Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Broad Winged Hawk. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month.
Bird Feeders For Broad Winged Hawk
There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.
Best Bird Houses for Broad Winged Hawk
There are many types of bird houses. Building a bird house is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 bird houses have become our favorites. Getting a bird house for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these bird houses but they have been worth the higher price and look great.