Rough-legged Hawk

photo by Phil Swanson

Buteo lagopus
L 22″(56 cm) W 56″(142 cm).

Song or calls:
Generally silent. Will give soft squeals around nest.

Description: Sexes similar. Variable plumage. Feathers reach to talons on legs. All plumages have white tail with wide dark band (male has several dark bands on tail) near trailing edge. Light phase has buffy head, chest, and leg feathers all with dark streaking. Broad black belly band. Dark phase (rare) with dark brown head, body, and underwing coverts.

Behavior: Often hovers while hunting.

rough legged hawk
Habitat: Open prairies and other grassland habitats.

Where in Nebraska: Uncommon migrant and winter visitor across the state. More common in the west.

Fun Facts: Rough-legged Hawk create nests usings sticks and sometimes the bones of Caribou. Male does most to all food gathering for the young.
Rough-legged Hawk - photo by Phil Swanson Rough-legged Hawk - photo by Phil Swanson
(click image for larger view)