Take Flight with the Crossley ID Guide: Rough-Legged Hawk

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This is a two-page spread of Rough-legged Hawks from The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors.

Dark Rough-legged Hawks are dark brown below with slightly paler underwing coverts, and dark above. The upperside of adults is mottled compared with the unmarked uppersides of 1st-years. Some adult males are a beautiful, uniform black underneath with a slaty blue sheen on the back. Adults show a dark trailing edge to the wings and a defined dark tail tip from below. The tail pattern on adult dark birds is all-dark above, or dark with multiple white tail bands. Both sexes can have tail bands, but the white bands on males are typically neat and well-defined.

1st-years have an indistinct dark tail with faint grayish broken bands that appears whitish with a smudgy dark tip from below. 1st-year dark birds also have a paler face than dark adults. Rough-legged Hawks are high-Arctic breeders. Rough-legs winter on marshes, farmland, and other open countryside, often in the harshest environments. They can often be seen soaring with wings in a modified dihedral or hovering to spot unsuspecting rodents. Any raptor sitting on the very highest snag surveying the surrounding countryside is likely to be this species.

To see ALL the sample plates from The Crossley ID Guide, click here.