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Rough-legged hawk (Buteo lagopus)

Rough-legged hawk Photo credit: David Burke @ Dreamstime.com

NH Conservation Status: Not listed.

 

Federal Status: Not listed; Rough-legged hawks are legally protected in New Hampshire. Possession and take (which includes harming, harassing, injuring and killing) is illegal.

 

Distribution: Uncommon. Winters throughout the state. More commonly found from New York west to the Great Lakes.

 

Description: 18-20” long with a 48-56” wingspan. Feathers on legs down to the toes. Black wrist patches. White at base of the tail.

 

Voice: A long, descending, “kaaaaaar”

 

Commonly Confused Species: Northern harriers are slimmer and have white rumps. Red-tailed hawks have darker heads, dark edges of wings instead of wrist patches.

 

Habitat: During winter roosts in conifer stands and hunts over open areas such as fields, farms, pastures, and marshes.

 

Nesting: Nests are made of sticks and built on cliffs. Females lay 1-7 eggs. Chicks are born covered in down and helpless.

 

Diet: Primarily small mammals. Occasionally hares and cottontails. Populations fluctuate with changes in abundance of mice, lemmings, and meadow voles.

 

Rough-legged hawk

Rough-legged hawk, light phase. Main picture, above, is dark phase. Photo credit: Perchhead @ Dreamstime.com