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Ferruginous Hawk

The Ferruginous Hawk is one of three "soaring hawks" that regularly breed in Alberta's grasslands. The species is currently listed as endangered under the Alberta Wildlife Act and, Canada-wide, is considered vulnerable by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC 1999).

The Ferruginous Hawk has a restricted prairie distribution, and compared to other prairie hawks and is frequently described as a hawk of the "open country". Natural regions in which the Ferruginous Hawk can be found in Alberta include Dry Mixed-grass, Mixed-grass, Fescue and Aspen Parkland. Generally, the Ferruginous Hawk occurs in desert shrub and grassland regions, west and east of the Rocky Mountains. The Ferruginous Hawk nests where grazing is the main land use or where the open landscape is otherwise relatively wild.

Ferruginous Hawks are usually monogamous (they only have one girlfriend/boyfriend at a time) and have only one mate for one to several breeding seasons. Major differences in appearance of individual hawks result from variations in feathers. A dark type, which occurs in approximately 10% of individuals, appears black on belly, back and wings from a distance. This contrasts with the more common light type, where feathers on back, legs and wings are a mix of rusty 'ferruginous' brown, gray and white. Both types have a grayish tail.

Throughout its range, the Ferruginous Hawk mainly relies on only two families of mammals for the majority of its food; Leporidae (rabbits and hares) and Sciuridae (ground squirrels and prairie dogs)..

To learn about other species at risk in Alberta click here.

A Ferruginous Hawk nest.

A Ferruginous Hawk nest.

Ferruginous Hawk

Ferruginous Hawk