|Rough-legged Hawk Light Morph|
This time of year it is easy to see the hawks. They are either flying or perched in hardwood trees. The trees are now bare of leaves making it easy to see them. They sit high in the trees in good observation areas, watching for movement of rodents upon which they can feed. Some of these hawks will remain all winter if the food supply lasts.
|Rough-legged Hawk Light Morph Showing Belly and Wrist Patches|
The Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus) is a winter buteo. It is named because it is feathered down its legs to its toes. There are only 2 other species with that characteristic, Ferruginous Hawk and Golden Eagle. It is a holarctic species, being found also in Europe and Asia. It breeds in the Arctic in tundra and taiga habitats where it nests on rocks and cliffs. It migrates to southern Canada and northern US during the winter where it prefers marshes, plains, and agricultural areas where rodents are abundant.
The Rough-legged Hawk occurs in two forms called morphs, light and dark morph. Both morphs are seen here. The light morph, shown in both photos above, is boldly patterned. It shows a dark belly patch and dark wrist patches. The dark morph is uniformly dark when perched and in flight shows light primary wing feathers on the underwing and white under the tail. Males are darker than females.
|Rough-legged Hawk Dark Morph|