Common Black Hawk

The Common Black Hawk (Buteogallus anthracinus) is a bird of prey found in the warmer climates of the Americas, from southwestern United States through Central America to Venezuela, Peru, Trinidad and the Lesser Antilles. It is mainly a coastal, resident bird of mangrove swamps, estuaries and dry open woodland. Some inland populations are migratory, including a population in northwestern Mexico and Arizona. This bird is a protected species in the far north of its range (USA) under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

The adult is 17 to 20.75 inches in length and weighs close to 33 ounces. It is mainly black or dark gray. The short tail is black with a single broad band and white tip. The bill is black and the legs are yellow. It has very broad wings. Sexes are similar, but the young are dark brown above with spotting and streaks. Their underparts are tan to white with dark blotches, and the tail has a number of black and white bars. The call is a unique spink-speenk-speenk-spink-spink-spink.

The diet of the Common Black Hawk consists mainly of crabs, but it will also feed on small vertebrates and eggs. This bird is often seen soaring, with occasional lazy flaps, and has a unique aerial courtship display. The nest is a platform of sticks located 15 to 100 feet above ground in a tree. Nests are usually reused and get bigger over the years. The female lays one to three brown marked, whitish eggs (one being more usual).

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