Lakeside Nature Center

Critter Corner - Broad-Winged Hawk
(Buteo platypterus)


The broad-winged hawk's call is a piercing, wailing whistle.  This bird of prey stands 14 to 18 inches fall and weighs about 20 ounces.  The bird's bones are hollow, so they weigh less than you would guess.


Broad-winged hawks live in hardwood and conifer forests in the northern part of the United States and Canada.  There, they  eat rabbits, rodents, birds, snakes and amphibians.  During the winter in South America, they tend to eat insects, lizards, bats and frogs.  These hawks are seen in Missouri during migrations in the spring and fall.


The female broad-winged lays two or three eggs late in the springtime, often in an abandoned squirrel nest or other bird of prey's nest.  When nesting, the hawk is quiet and secretive near the nest.  Both mom and dad may incubate the eggs.


Broad-winged hawks like to live in mature hardwood forests with lots of trees  But they also like to have water nearby where they can find frogs and snakes.




Like other birds of prey, broad-winged hawks have sharp talons and beaks.  They often hunt in the same places as red-tailed hawks.  The red-tails are much larger.  Sometimes the two species get along, but sometimes they scream and dive at each other.


  • Broad-winged hawks migrate in large flocks from the northern United States and Canada to the tropics in South America.  That trip is more than 4,000 miles. 

  • As they migrate, they use warm swirls of air called thermals to pick them up and swirl them high in the air. 

  • Groups of migrating hawks are called kettles.

Check out Lakeside Nature Center's Broad-winged Hawk.

To learn more about broad-winged hawks

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(Photo credits: Large portrait of Broad-winged Hawk, Fermi National Lab [Jeff Hertz, photographer]; Broad-winged Hawk with wings spread, US Geological Service; Broad-tailed Hawk on branch, Missouri Department of Conservation; Kettle of Broad-tailed Hawks, Missouri Department of Conservation)

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