Short-tailed Hawk

The Short-tailed Hawk (Buteo brachyurus) is a small to medium-sized raptor native to the Americas, particularly found in parts of Central and South America, as well as in southern Florida in the United States. Adult Short-tailed Hawks typically measure between 14 and 18 inches in length and have a wingspan ranging from 33 to 40 inches. They weigh between 11 and 20 ounces, making them relatively lightweight compared to other raptors.

Distinguishing field marks of the Short-tailed Hawk include its compact build, short tail relative to body size, and distinctive plumage. Adult birds have a dark gray or blackish cap and upperparts, contrasting with a paler, barred underparts. They often exhibit a reddish hue on the shoulders and thighs. Juvenile Short-tailed Hawks may have more mottled or streaked plumage, gradually acquiring the adult coloration as they mature.

Short-tailed Hawks are known for their agile flight and hunting techniques, often soaring effortlessly in search of prey. They primarily feed on small birds and mammals, including songbirds, doves, and rodents. Their hunting strategy typically involves stealthily ambushing prey from concealed perches within forested or wooded habitats.

Migration patterns of Short-tailed Hawks vary depending on their geographic location. Populations in Central and South America are generally non-migratory, remaining in their breeding territories year-round. However, some individuals from populations in southern Florida may undertake seasonal movements, particularly in response to changes in food availability or weather conditions.

Breeding populations of Short-tailed Hawks are found in a range of forested habitats, including tropical and subtropical forests, as well as savannas and woodlands with suitable nesting sites. They construct stick nests high in the canopy of trees, often in secluded locations away from human disturbance. Short-tailed Hawks are typically monogamous and may reuse the same nest site in consecutive breeding seasons.

Despite their relatively wide distribution, Short-tailed Hawks face threats from habitat loss and degradation, particularly due to deforestation and urbanization. Conservation efforts aimed at protecting and preserving their forested habitats are essential for ensuring the long-term survival of this fascinating raptor species.

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