Rough-legged Hawk

(Buteo lagopus)

Conservation Status
Rough-legged Hawk
Photo by Dan W. Andree
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

 
  NatureServe

N5B, N5N - Secure Breeding and Nonbreeding

SNRN - Unranked Nonbreeding

 
  Minnesota

not listed

 
           
           
           
           
           
 
Description
 
 

In flight, the undersides are either all dark (dark morph) or light with a broad, dark, abdominal belt (light morph); the tail is long and white with a single dark subterminal band; the wings are relatively long and narrow, white on the trailing edge and dark on the leading edge from the body to the wrist (dark morph), or white with a dark wrist patch (light morph).

 
     
 

Size

 
 

19 to 24¾ in length

48 to 54 wingspan

 
     
 

Voice

 
 

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
     
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Open areas; fields, meadows, bogs, agricultural fields

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Migration

 
 

Early September to mid-May

 
     
 

Nesting

 
 

 

 
     
 

Food

 
 

Mostly small rodents, but also amphibians, small birds, and large insects.

Rough-legged Hawk often faces the wind and hovers while hunting.

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Occurrence

 
 

Uncommon to common migrant; absent or accidental in summer

 
         
 

Maps

 
 

The Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union All Seasons Species Occurrence Map

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Class Aves (birds)  
 

Order

Accipitriformes (hawks, eagles, kites, and allies)  
 

Family

Accipitridae (eagles, hawks, and kites)  
 

Subfamily

Accipitrinae  
 

Genus

Buteo (buteos)  
       
 

Subordinate Taxa

 
 

American Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus sanctijohannis)

Eurasian Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus lagopus)

Kamtschatka Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus kamtschatkensis)

Siberian Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus menzbieri)

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
Visitor Photos
 
           
 

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Dan W. Andree

 
 

Immature Light Morph Female Rough-legged Hawk....

They seem to be migrating now. The color variations in male, female, juvenile light and dark morph is really interesting. Not sure if they will stay around or just for a few days and move on. I guess time will tell.

Feel really fortunate to see a species of hawk that nests up in the Arctic.

  Rough-legged Hawk  
         
 

Female Rough-legged Hawk…

later afternoon today in rural Norman Co. A really beautiful hawk.

  Rough-legged Hawk  
         
 

Rough-legged Hawk....

It lost it’s footage slightly and opened its wings briefly to help get its balance and better footing. Really interesting and awesome hawks.

  Rough-legged Hawk  
         
      Rough-legged Hawk  
         
 

Perched and alert...

 
    Rough-legged Hawk      
           
 

I cropped this one...

All these are just from 4k frame grabs. I seen the hawk a couple times they seem to favor prairie and grassy type areas with a few trees scattered here and there but like areas with a lot of prairie type terrain.

They also seem to like to perch on high line poles at times at least during migration. Late Nov. 2021

Will keep an eye out for any more passing through or possibly even spending winter in an area around Norman Co.

  Rough-legged Hawk  
           
 

Came across an injured Rough-legged hawk...

 
  Rough-legged Hawk      
         
 

There is still a Rough-legged Hawk...

Hanging around the Sandpiper Prairie SNA and to the east of that area. I seen what I believe is the same one in that area in winter and it seemed to stick to that area. I believe it is a mature female.

  Rough-legged Hawk  
           
 

Rough-legged Hawk...

It was sitting along a gravel road near some grasslands waiting to pounce on either a mouse or gopher it must have seen near a hole.

  Rough-legged Hawk  
           
 

Pouncing Rough-legged hawk...

Here it is pouncing on its prey. Whatever it was it didn’t succeed at capturing it. It was late in the day and the hawk sat for a little while longer then flew off. Not the best photo but can tell it is a rough-legged hawk.

  Rough-legged Hawk  
           
 

Rough-legged Hawk...light morph...

This Spring was the first time I had ever seen a Rough-legged Hawk. It wasn’t easy to photograph. My camera is not known for action shooting etc. but couldn’t help but try capture this interesting and beautiful hawk. I read that some winter in Mn. and other northern states. They may be seen from Sept. to May in some areas of Mn. but they nest in the far north arctic regions. Their is a light and dark morph. I believe this is a light morph.

  Rough-legged Hawk  
           
 

Rough-legged Hawk in flight...

 
    Rough-legged Hawk      
           
 

Rough-legged Hawk...

I noticed this hawk recently on and around high line poles out in rural Norman co. Mn. and it caught my attention because of all the white on it. I wondered what kind of hawk it was so looked it up and found it to be a Rough-legged Hawk. Beautiful bird it was.

  Rough-legged Hawk  
           
    Rough-legged Hawk   Rough-legged Hawk  
           
  From this angle this Rough-legged Hawk reminded me of or made me think a little of an owl. Beautiful hawk it was. Would of liked to have gotten better shots of it but they show up unexpectedly and not always in the best light etc. for photography. They do not sit still long when humans are around.   Rough-legged Hawk  
           
 

I understand they do not nest in Mn. but will hang around during winter then head back up north into Canada, Alaska and other more Arctic like areas. I think this is a young one.

 
    Rough-legged Hawk   Rough-legged Hawk  
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
 
 

 

 
           

 

Camera

 

     
 
Slideshows
 

Rough-legged Hawk
Allen Chartier

  Rough-legged Hawk  

Rough-legged Hawk
Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren

  Rough-legged Hawk  

Rough-legged Hawk
JMC Nature Photos

  Rough-legged Hawk  

Rough-legged Hawk
Craig A. Mullenbach

  Rough-legged Hawk  

 

slideshow

       
 
Visitor Videos
 
       
 

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Dan W. Andree

 
  "Rough legged Hawk" Norman County, Mn. Nov 5, 2020
Dec 1, 2020
 
   
 
About

Rough-legged hawks breed up in the Arctic, but will migrate and winter over in some of the lower 48 states. I haven't had a lot of encounters with this species and not sure if this one will winter over in this location or if it was just stopping over on its way elsewhere. Nice hawks.

   
       
 
Other Videos
 
  Rough-Legged Hawk
LabofOrnithology
 
   
 
About

Published on Mar 15, 2016

The rough-legged Hawk is a beautiful raptor that spends the winter in open areas across much of the United States. In spring, it migrates north to breed in the tundra and taiga of Alaska and Canada. Learn to identify this species in flight by watching this video narrated by Jerry Liguori from HawkWatch International. It's one of 35 HD videos and 1,000 annotated photos in the big (~1GB) new Raptor ID app available for iPhone (http://apple.co/1XIT079) and Android (http://bit.ly/1L6NwkJ) devices. Video (c) Jerry Liguori and Brian Sullivan.

 
  Rough-legged Hawk (Accipitridae: Buteo lagopus) Hunting Behavior
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Dec 4, 2010

Photographed at the Kellys Slough NWR, North Dakota (04 December 2010).

 
  Rough-legged Hawk (Accipitridae: Buteo lagopus) Dark Phase
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Dec 4, 2010

Photographed west of Grand Forks, North Dakota (04 December 2010).

 
  Rough-legged Hawk /Rough-legged Buzzard ( Buteo lagopus ) HD
Stoil Ivanov
 
   
 
About

Published on Dec 31, 2012

Rough-legged Hawk ( Buteo lagopus ) Filmed at Door county Wisconsin 12-25-2012 . This is male light morph ( lightly marked type ) Also known in Europe as Rough-legged Buzzard

 
  How to ID a Rough-legged Hawk
rockykairn
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Oct 6, 2008

videotaped at Hawk Ridge in Duluth, MN

 
  Rough-legged Hawk
jube o
 
   
 
About

Published on Oct 26, 2013

Very beautiful light morph Rough-legged Hawk.
Crex Meadows WIsconsin.
October 27, 2013

 

 

Camcorder

 
 
Visitor Sightings
 
           
 

Report a sighting of this bird.

 
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Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Be sure to include a location.
 
  Dan W. Andree
11/25/2021

Location: Rural Norman Co.

They seem to be migrating now. The color variations in male, female, juvenile light and dark morph is really interesting. Not sure if they will stay around or just for a few days and move on. I guess time will tell.

Feel really fortunate to see a species of hawk that nests up in the Arctic.

Rough-legged Hawk  
  Dan W. Andree
11/25/2021

Location: Rural Norman Co.

later afternoon today in rural Norman Co. A really beautiful hawk.

Rough-legged Hawk  
  Dan W. Andree
11/23/2021

Location: Rural Norman Co. Mn.

Rough-legged Hawk  
  Dan W. Andree
5/3/2021

Location: Norman Co., Mn.

Rough-legged Hawk

 
  Dan W. Andree
4/25/2021

Location: Norman Co., Mn.

There is still a Rough-legged Hawk... Hanging around the Sandpiper Prairie SNA and to the east of that area. I seen what I believe is the same one in that area in winter and it seemed to stick to that area. I believe it is a mature female.

Rough-legged Hawk

 
  Dan W. Andree
11/5/2020

Location: Norman Co. Mn.

It was sitting along a gravel road near some grasslands waiting to pounce on either a mouse or gopher it must have seen near a hole.

Rough-legged Hawk

 
  Dan W. Andree
Spring 2018

Location: Norman Co. Mn.

In flight over a grassy area

Rough-legged Hawk

 
  Dan W. Andree
4/12/2018

Location: rural Norman Co. Mn.

I noticed this hawk recently on and around high line poles out in rural Norman co. Mn. and it caught my attention because of all the white on it. I wondered what kind of hawk it was so looked it up and found it to be a Rough-legged Hawk. Beautiful bird it was.

Rough-legged Hawk

 
           
 
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