Common Black Hawk
|Common Black Hawk|
(or Accipitriformes, q.v.)
The Common Black Hawk (Buteogallus anthracinus) is a bird of prey in the family Accipitridae, which also includes the eagles, hawks and Old World vultures. It formerly included the Cuban Black Hawk (Buteogallus gundlachii) as a subspecies. The Mangrove Black Hawk, traditionally considered a distinct species, is now generally considered a subspecies, B. a. subtilis, of the Common Black Hawk.
The adult Common Black Hawk is 43–53 cm (16–20 in) long and weighs 930g on average. It has very broad wings, and is mainly black or dark gray. The short tail is black with a single broad white band and a white tip. The bill is black and the legs and cere are yellow. The adults resemble Zone-tailed Hawks, but have less white bars on their tail and are larger in size.
Sexes are similar, but immature birds are dark brown above with spotting and streaks. Their underparts are buff to whitish with dark blotches, and the tail has a number of black and white bars.
Distribution and habitat
The Common Black Hawk is a breeding bird in the warmer parts of the Americas, from the Southwestern United States through Central America to Venezuela, Peru, Trinidad and the Lesser Antilles. It is a mainly coastal, resident bird of mangrove swamps, estuaries and adjacent dry open woodland, though there are inland populations, including a migratory population in north-western Mexico and Arizona.
The bird builds a platform nest of sticks fifteen to one hundred feet above the ground in a tree, often a mangrove. Nests are often reused and tend to grow bigger. It lays one to three eggs (usually one), which are whitish with brown markings.
It feeds mainly on crabs, but will also take small vertebrates and eggs. This species is often seen soaring, with occasional lazy flaps, and has a talon-touching aerial courtship display. The call is a distinctive piping spink-speenk-speenk-spink-spink-spink.
Status and conservation
- BirdLife International (2012). "Buteogallus anthracinus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Clark, W. S. 2007. Taxonomic status and distribution of Mangrove Black Hawk Buteogallus (anthracinus) subtilis. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 127:110-117.
- Birds of Venezuela by Hilty, ISBN 0-7136-6418-5
- ffrench, Richard (1991). A Guide to the Birds of Trinidad and Tobago (2nd edition ed.). Comstock Publishing. ISBN 0-8014-9792-2.
- Howell, Steve N. G.; Webb, Sophie (1995). A Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-854012-4.
- Common Black Hawk videos on the Internet Bird Collection
- Stamps (for Grenadines of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) with RangeMap
- "Common Black-Hawk" photo gallery