Wild Birds

Roadside Hawks

The Roadside Hawks (Buteo magnirostris) is a relatively small bird of prey found in Latin America.



Range and distribution

The Roadside Hawks are common throughout its range: from Mexico through Central America to most of South America east of the Andes Cordillera. It is found from the northern Caribbean coast of South America south to the northeastern parts of Argentina.

With the possible exception of dense forests, the Roadside Hawk is well-adapted to most ecosystems in its range. It is also an urban bird, and is possibly the most common species of hawk seen in various cities throughout its range – or perhaps just the most conspicuous one, as it becomes aggressive when nesting and has been recorded attacking humans passing near the nest.


The breast and underparts of the bird are barred brown and white, and the tail has four or five grey bars.

There is significant plumage variation depending on the subspecies. The eyes of the Roadside Hawk are usually yellow, and although the bird’s general color is grey, it is fairly common to observe a touch of rufous (i.e., a light brownish coloration) on the bird’s wings, especially when it is in flight. Its call is a very high-pitched piercing squeak.

Fairly small compared to other members of the genus Buteo, being 36 centimeters in average length, the Roadside Hawk can in some parts of its range be identified by its long tail and disproportionately short wings


The Roadside Hawk’s diet consists mainly of insects, squamates, and smallish mammals, such as young Common Marmosets and similar small monkeys which are hunted quite often.

It will also take small birds, but far less often than generalists such as the related but larger White-tailed Hawk) or bird specialists like the more distantly related Aplomado Falcon.

Mixed-species feeding flocks it encounters when hunting in open cerrado habitat are not particularly wary of it: they watch it lest the hawk come too close, but consider them hardly more of a threat than the diminutive American Kestrel.

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Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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