A broad-winged hawk, scientific name Buteo platypterus, is a small to medium sized raptor. It is a migratory bird that lives in forests. Native to the U.S., there are also a number of subspecies native to the Caribbean islands. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) does not consider this species to be in immediate danger. This predatory bird usually raises only one brood each year.
Measuring up to 18 inches (45 centimeters) long, the broad-winged hawk has a wingspan of 40 inches (1 meter) and rarely weighs much more than 1 pound (500 grams). It is a raptor or bird of prey, i.e. it is primarily carnivorous. The main diet of this species includes rodents and small mammals, birds, and small reptiles. When other prey is scarce, they will also eat very large insects.
In the spring and summer, these birds live in North America. As the breeding season comes to an end, the broad-winged hawk migrates to South America. This species migrates in huge flocks known as kettles and complete a journey of over 4,000 miles (6,500 kilometers), moving as far as the southern parts of Brazil. Whether these birds are in their summer or wintering grounds, they live in mature forests and woodlands that have a temperate, tropical, or subtropical climate.
There are several subspecies of broad-winged hawk which are native to the islands of the Caribbean. These species live in tropical and subtropical climates. They do not migrate because the temperatures remain reasonably warm all year round.
The IUCN classes the broad-winged hawk as a species of least concern; there are thought to be over one million birds, and the species has a very large geographic range. One of the subspecies found only in Puerto Rico is listed as endangered because of the tiny geographic range and that the population is estimated at only 50 breeding pairs.
During the breeding season, the pairs build large, deep nests high up in trees. Once construction is complete, the female lays up to five white to pastel blue eggs which are mottled with dark spots. The eggs take about one month to hatch with the female being solely responsible for incubation. Until the eggs hatch, the male stands guard over the nest and brings food back to the female.
After hatching, the feeding and rearing becomes a shared task. The juveniles begin to fledge after roughly six weeks but remain with the parents for about six months. This species only raises a single brood each season.