Roadside Hawk

The Roadside Hawk (Rupornis magnirostris), also known as Gray-tailed hawk, Large-billed Hawk and tropical Broad-winged Hawk, is the smallest hawk of Central and South America measuring 13.5-15.7 in. It often occurs along roads, other open habitats and mature forests. Often found perched in a clearing, this hawk is generally tame and easy to approach. Sixteen subspecies have been recognized. Some individuals have brown upperparts and hood, more orange belly barring, and rufous tail bars. Juveniles are browner and drabber. Perched adults are easily distinguished from other small raptors by solid grayish-brown head and breast that contrasts with rufous underparts.

Roadside Hawk

The Roadside Hawk does not soar, but flies from one perch to another, often shaking tail from side to side. Most hunting is done from a perch, the hawk making a gliding descent toward prey on the ground. The hawk takes a variety of small vertebrate and invertebrate prey.

A pair of roadside hawks seeks out an isolated, tall tree, one with a clear view of the land in which to build their nest. Often the pair returns to the same tree year afer year. Out of small dry branches they weave a shallow dish in the fork of two branches. One or two eggs are incubated for thirty-six days. Both parents hunt for the food which consists of squirrels, lizards, frogs, bats, mice, and insects. Chicks are easy prey to snakes, tree-dwelling mammals, raccoons and opossums.

This hawk species is very rare stray into southern Texas. Throughout its extensive range from Mexico to southern Argentina it is common and conspicuous. In some places it is better known as riverside hawk, as it is regularly seen from boats when perched up in riverside trees.


  1. Neotropical Birds of Prey: Biology and Ecology of a Forest Raptor Community. David F Whitacre (editor)
  2. Birds of Peru: Revised and Updated Edition. Thomas S. Schulenberg, Douglas F. Stotz, Daniel F. Lane, John P. O'Neill, Theodore A. Parker III
  3. Animals and Plants of the Ancient Maya: A Guide. Victoria Schlesinger



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