It formerly included the Cuban Black Hawk (Buteogallus gundlachii) as a subspecies. On the contrary, the Mangrove Black Hawk, traditionally considered a distinct species, is now generally considered a subspecies, subtilis, of the Common Black Hawk.
Distribution / Range
The Common Black Hawk is a breeding bird in the warmer parts of the Americas, from the Southwestern United States through Central America to Venezuela, Peru, Trinidad and the Lesser Antilles.
This is a mainly coastal, resident bird of mangrove swamps, estuaries, and adjacent dry open woodland, though there are inland populations, including a migratory population in northwestern Mexico and Arizona.
This species is often seen soaring, with occasional lazy flaps, and has a talon-touching aerial courtship display.
The adult Common Black Hawk is 43–53 cm long and weighs 930g on average. It has very broad wings and is mainly black or dark gray. The short tail is black with a single broad white band and a white tip. The bill is black and the legs and cere are yellow.
Males and females look alike, but immature birds are dark brown above with spotting and streaks. Their underparts are buff to whitish with dark blotches, and the tail has a number of black and white bars.
Diet / Feeding
The Common Black Hawk feeds mainly on crabs, but will also take small vertebrates and eggs.
Calls / Vocalizations
The call of the Common Black Hawk is a distinctive piping spink-speenk-speenk-spink-spink-spink.
Breeding / Nesting
It builds a platform nest of sticks fifteen to one hundred feet above the ground in a tree, often a mangrove. Nests are often reused and tend to grow bigger. It lays one to three eggs (usually one), which are whitish with brown markings.
The Common Black Hawk is protected in the far north of its range (in the USA) under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.