The Ferruginous Hawk – The Royal Buzzard


The Ferruginous Hawk – The Royal Buzzard

Welcome to my Ferruginous Hawk page. On this page you will find exciting facts on the Buteo Regalis, Great Buzzard pictures, Information on Buzzards Nests and lots more! Here is a buzzard picture to start off!

  • Ferruginous Buzzard – Buteo Regalis
  • Length – 50-70cm
  • Wingspan - 120-150cm
  • Average Weight - 1Kg-2Kgs

Ferruginous Hawk – Description

The Ferruginous or Buteo Regalis meaning Royal Buzzard is by far the largest of its family. In contrary to its name, like the Red Tailed Hawk the Ferruginous is not actually a hawk and is in fact a member of the Buteo or Buzzard family.

The Buzzards are characterised by broad wings and powerful stocky legs and feet. These they use to crush and pin their prey. Buzzards are not unlike Eagles in their appearance but are generally smaller and less powerful.

The Ferruginous Hawk however is a very large and heavy bird. This is why this Species is constantly mistaken for an eagle and in fact is even referred to as an eagle in falconry because of its size and hunting techniques.

In my opinion (and I think many other people’s as well) the ferruginous is THE most beautiful bird of prey on the planet. Over its significant range, it can vary hugely in colour morphs from very dark to almost pure white (and everything in between).

The Ferruginous in its name comes from the latin Ferrum meaning iron or rust and this refers to the rusty appearance of the plumage on the paler morph adult birds.

This hawk bird has very large eyes, much larger in relation to its skull than many of the other hawk bird families and buzzards. The eyes are deep golden to clear and are very powerful.

The underbelly plumage is always much lighter in colour than the back and on the pale morph birds can be completely pure white. The back plumage is streaked rusty colour – dark brown with a rusty flecked white tail. The tail is very broad and can be fanned out very far enabling the bird to hang motionless on thermals.

Ferruginous Habitat is typically grassland and open shrub land. Because of its size the ferruginous hawk is rarely seen in dense woodland, this it leaves to the hawk bird family.

The B. Regalis range extends throughout North America and is seen often in many parts of Canada.

Ferruginous Hawk – Hunting and Weaponry

These large hawks/buzzards are powerful and adept hunters. The female Ferruginous has powerful feet and is a lot stronger than the male. The male of the species has small feet in comparative size to its body and therefore is less suited to catching large prey. Ferruginous' are also equipped with a huge gape. This means they can open their beaks a very long way. This is much more apparent than any other bird of prey except for some owl species This enables the ferruginous to bolt down food sometimes whole before other predators can take it from them.

Around 80% of a Ferruginous’ diet is mammalian. The other proportion is taken up by birds, reptiles and insects. Most birds of prey will eat and scavenge anything given the chance. A Ferruginous hawk (however regal it may look) is no different in this respect.

Some Prey animals recorded for the Ferruginous Hawk are;

  • Voles
  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Muskrats
  • Kangaroo Rats
  • Prairie Dogs
  • Ground Squirrels
  • Weasels
  • Snowshoe Hares
  • Larks
  • Pheasants
  • Partridges
  • Ducks
  • Magpies
  • Short Eared Owls
  • Harriers
  • Burrowing Owls (often taken from the Burrow Entrance)
  • Snakes and Lizards Of Many Varieties
  • Any Insects they can find

As you can see form this list, The Ferruginous Hawk Is a versatile and opportunistic hunter. Although successful in the wild, the Ferruginous has a lot of competition from other raptors including the ever present and prominent Great Horned Owl and Red Tailed Hawk Many techniques of hunting are employed, these include quartering (flying low and fast), soaring (flying high and scanning the ground), Perching on trees (waiting for prey to scurry underneath), perching outside burrows (mugging prey in their own home) and robbing other predators.

The ferruginous has also been recorded hunting cooperatively with their partners. This is rare in raptors and although it is not done so successfully as the Harris Hawk this shows great initiative and intelligence on the part of this Hawk.

Mating and Breeding – Buzzards Nest

Ferruginous Hawks are very versatile when it comes to breeding. The time of year in which they breed can vary enormously (from March to June) depending on how much prey there is around, how successful the pair is at hunting, climate and geographical regions.

They are also the most versatile of all the raptors when finding and making a nest. The Buzzards Nest can be nearly anything. These include;

  • Trees
  • Ledges
  • Poles
  • Buildings
  • Scrapes
  • The Ground
  • Other man made Structures
  • Other Raptor nests

The Buzzards Nest is made out of sticks, branches and ground debris. Buzzards Nest structures are complicated affairs and as many as eight of these Buzzards Nest Structures can be found in one pairs territory. Old Buzzards nests are reused year after year (after a bit of spring cleaning.)

Use In Falconry

The Buteo Regalis is a fairly popular bird to use in falconry although it is flown a lot more in its native regions in the USA than by us Brits. Both the female and the male are flown much like a red tail except there is one problem.

The male of this species (as I have mentioned further up the page has puny feet! They really are not very scary, even to a rabbit. This is a shame because of the fact that they are beautiful birds to watch and very trainable. This means the females are generally flown a lot more, they are also more aggressive and more dominant (as with all birds of prey).

As they are such a large bird, like the Golden Eagle Bird, they must be treated with great respect. A Female Ferruginous can be a third again as big as a Red Tailed Hawk and can really pack a punch.

Another problem with the Ferruginous Hawk in Falconry is the huge mouth. A ferrugie is capable of eating extremely fast. This is a serious problem for the falconer concerned as by the time he/she gets to the scene of the kill, the ferruginous has eaten the prey already and has flapped up in to the nearest tree and gone to sleep..nothing will coax it back down..(time to get your tent and sleeping bag and wait til the morning)

This problem is amplified by the fact that the ferruginous hawk’s preferred hunting technique is to emulate an eagle and soar high and for miles looking for prey. A chase can go for a very long way not unlike some of the Falcon Bird family. This makes it all the harder to retrieve your bird.

Having said this, ferruginous' have been trained successfully by many people..they are flown at rabbits, jackrabbits and hares (although hares are a longshot) but anyway I would get one just to look at all day! In my opinion no other bird compares as far as sheer looks are concerned.

I hope you have enjoyed my Ferruginous Hawk Page and have enjoyed the buzzard pictures. If you would like to add anything of your own and make your own page on the site then please feel free to write a few words down below at the bottom of the page, its very easy and completely free to do. I will then upload it for you.

Otherwise please feel free to browse the rest of the site through the navbar above :)