Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus)

Broad-winged Hawk


  • The broad-winged hawk is small, about 42 centimetres (17 inches) long.


  • Broad-winged hawks appear somewhat chunky. This is due to the wings being almost as wide as they are long and the short wide tail.
  • The crown and back are dark greyish brown in color.
  • From below, the wings are white with contrasting black tips, and the breast and abdomen are white, barred with brown.
  • The most distinguishing feature is the broadly barred tail.

  • The broad-winged hawk ranges throughout wooded areas of Canada and the eastern United States, east of the Rockies.
  • The breeding season is spent in Canada, and the southeast United States provide wintering grounds. Broad-winged hawks characteristically migrate in large flocks.
  • In Alberta, the broad-winged hawk ranges in the parkland and southern boreal forest regions.
Natural History


  • Prefers mixed-wood forests and groves of deciduous trees


  • Prey species include:
    • Chipmunks
    • Large insects
    • Mice
    • Squirrels
  • Unlike other buteos, this small hawk seldom soars, or perches in the open when hunting, but stays in the confines of the woods.
Reproduction and Growth

Breeding Behaviour

  • Nests are built in trees, and two to four eggs are laid.
Conservation and Management


The broad-winged hawk is classified as Sensitive in the General Status of Alberta Wild Species report. See:


  • This hawk requires large stands of mature forests as breeding habitat; careful woodlot management would benefit this species.

Current management

  • Like all birds of prey in Alberta, the broad-winged is protected by the provincial Wildlife Act and classified as a non-game species.


Page Information

Updated: Jan 8, 2014