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Last updated on April 23, 2014 at 17:08 EDT

Great Black Hawk, Buteogallus urubitinga

The Great Black Hawk is a bird of prey belonging to the family Accipitridae. This family also includes the eagles, hawks, and Old World vultures.

This is a resident breeding bird in the tropical New World, from Mexico through Central America to Peru, Trinidad and northern Argentina. It looks similar to the Common Black Hawk, but it’s larger and has a different call and tail pattern. It is mainly a coastal bird, living in forests and open woodland near water. It builds its large nest made of sticks in a tree, usually only laying one dark-blotched whitish colored egg.

An adult Great Black Hawk is 56 to 64 centimeters long and weighs about 1.1 kilograms. With very broad wings, it is mainly black. They have a short tail that is white with a broad black tip. Their bill is black and the legs and cere are yellow. The males and females are similar in appearance, but the young birds are dark brown above with streaks and spotting. The underparts are beige with dark spots, and the tail has several black and dusky bars. The call of the Great Black Hawk is an obvious piping ooo-wheeeee.

These birds mainly feed on reptiles, other small invertebrates, and large insects. They often hunt on foot. This species is sometimes observed soaring above the woodlands. It has also been seen raiding hoatzin nesting colonies along Amazon rivers, supposedly looking for eggs and chicks.

Image Caption: Great black-hawk perched in snag near wetland area of Estancia El Trebol, Bajo Chaco, Paraguay. Credit: John Mosesso, Andrea Grosse/National Biological Information Infrastructure/Wikipedia

Great Black Hawk Buteogallus urubitinga