Thank you for visiting the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department website. NH Fish and Game



Rough-legged hawk (Buteo lagopus)

Rough-legged hawk Photo credit: David Burke @

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 @