Species group: Birds of Prey
Other common names: Ferruginous Buzzard
Scientific name: Buteo regalis
The largest North American buteo, the Ferruginous Hawk is a huge, impressive bird of the open plains of the west. While Frank L. Beebe's classic, A Falconry Manual, championed these birds as a safer alternative to working with golden eagles, they can still be difficult and dangerous, and no one recommends this species to the beginner.
As a bird of the open country, the Ferruginous Hawk will not enter forests even in pursuit of its quarry. They may nest in an isolated low tree that might look ridiculous for the size of the nest, or they may accept a manmade nesting platform provided to attract them to one's property.
The overwhelming majority of these huge buteos are light morphs, but dark birds are regularly encountered and can be spectacularly beautiful, especially the reddish ones. When seen from underneath, the heavily feathered rufous legs of the adult light morphs look like a V against the light belly – a noticeable field mark. Females can be much larger and heavier than males. The average weights below are from populations in the southwestern United States, but nothern birds can be even heavier.
Male: 1059 grams (37 oz.)
Female: 1231 grams (43 oz.)
50 - 66 centimeters (20 - 26 in.)
25 - 30 years
Behavior / temperament:
While Ferruginous Hawks may attract the top-notch falconer seeking a challenge, they are considered to be extremely difficult to tame, and they demand a large area of open countryside if they are to hunt successfully. They can be a dangerous bird unafraid to attack a dog, another bird of prey, or even a strange person who has entered their territory.
A good Ferruginous Hawk pen, aviary, or mews should be as large as possible while providing shade from direct sunlight in the summer and protection from extremes of winter weather. A roof that completely covers the structure is stronger and offers more protection from high winds. However, keeping them entirely indoors is probably a bad idea, as they are watchful birds that seem to benefit from having an open mesh wall or walls that allow them to keep an eye on the outdoor scene. Like most birds of prey, they will enjoy some clean, shallow water for bathing.
The Ferruginous Hawk is a carnivore that needs to consume some whole prey in order to allow its digestive system to work properly. In the wild, it consumes ground squirrels during the breeding season and feeds a great deal of these colony animals to its growing young. When ground squirrels are hibernating, an interval of several months, they switch to chasing hares, supplemented by other prey. Therefore, successful breeders and falconers warn against the practice of only feeding one food, such as day old chicks or jack rabbits. A varied diet that includes chicks, rabbits, rodents, quail, and more is much healthier. They should be supplied with drinking water.
Written by Elaine Radford
massive size, powerful hawk
The eagle-hawk, a huge, majestic, powerful hawk with gorgeous feathering
The ferruginous hawk is the largest of the hawk (buteo) genus, and is often mistaken for an eagle. This means it is perhaps one of the most difficult hawks to train and work with, as it combines the vicious aggression of the hawks with the massive size of the eagle. However, it is still has a much lower chance of severely injuring you than most eagles, especially the golden eagle, which is absolutely terrifying to work with. The ferruginous hawk I worked with only hurt me once, when it accidentally scratched my upper arm with it's talons when launching off my fist. However, these birds are still quite vicious to those who don't know how to handle them. I would not recommend a ferruginous hawk for anyone with small children, pets, or perhaps even a wife. I have heard of cats and chickens being killed by ferruginous hawks, and I'm sure someone out there has had their dog injured by these birds.
Now that these disclaimers are over with, the ferruginous hawk is incredibly exciting to train and fly. Because of their power and size, they can take large hares, prairie dogs, and birds. They are the best bird in the world for hunting rabbits/hares, as red-tailed hawks are not powerful enough to catch hares as easily, and eagles rarely go after hares and are not as agile as the ferruginous hawk. This makes them an ideal bird for plains areas where rabbits are abundant.
Ferruginous hawks are incredibly intelligent, which is sometimes a benefit while training, as they'll learn quickly, but also a disadvantage, as they' are notorious for remembering anything you do wrong to them. To train large birds, falconers often 'boss' the hawk or eagle, demonstrating that they are stronger than them to prevent future challenges to the falconer's authority. This is recommended for the ferruginous hawk - for example, cut off his/her food supply for a day if he is aggressive and impudent..
From vintners Aug 7 2015 11:00PM