A Broad-winged Hawk near Dorset, Ontario

A Broad-winged Hawk near Dorset, Ontario

Broad-winged hawk on a powerline near Dorset in Ontario, Canada.

As Bob and I were driving along Highway 35 near Dorset, Ontario one spring, I caught a glimpse of an interesting bird sitting on the power line that runs parallel to the road.  At first, we thought we were seeing a Merlin, but the bird turned out to be a Broad-winged Hawk.

Broad-winged hawk sitting on a powerline near Dorset in Ontario, Canada.

Undistracted by the traffic whizzing by, the Broad-winged Hawk simply surveyed its surroundings, looking for some unsuspecting prey to nab for its next meal.  Broad-winged Hawks are carnivores, and their diet consists of whatever insects, amphibians, reptiles, mammals or birds are available at any given time.

Broad-winged hawk near Dorset in Ontario, Canada.

Broad-winged Hawks are about the size of a crow and resemble Red-Shouldered Hawks, but their smaller size and shorter tail is what distinguishes one from the other.  This buteo that Bob and I saw is likely a first-year young one judging by the dark brown upper parts and buff streaking on the head and neck.

Mountsberg Raptor Centre near Campbellville in Ontario, Canada

In the past, Bob and I made a trip to the Mountsberg Raptor Centre near Campbellville, Ontario, to learn more about Raptors that are living across Ontario, in Canada.

Eastern Screech owl sits on Jean's hand at Mountsberg Raptor Centre near Campbellville in Ontario, Canada

Among the many different types of Raptors we had a chance to meet and greet was this tiny Eastern Screech Owl perched on my hand.

Broad-winged hawk at Mountsberg Raptor Centre near Campbellville in Ontario, Canada

Another raptor we had a chance to see at the centre was a Broad-winged Hawk.  Staff at the Raptor Centre told us that, after being injured as a young bird, this hawk spent too much time around humans during her rehabilitation and was accidentally imprinted, meaning she couldn’t live without human support.   It was great to learn about this Broad-winged Hawk from the experts at the Mountsberg Raptor Centre,  but getting to see one in its natural habitat was quite a thrill for Bob and me.

Broad-winged hawk sitting in a tree near Dorset in Ontario, Canada.

Broad-winged Hawks in the wild favour dense forests for nesting, and prefer to have water and roads, trails, wetlands or meadows nearby.  Those openings in the forest canopy aid its efforts at foraging.

Broad-winged hawk in a tree near Dorset in Ontario, Canada.

From its perch the Broad-winged Hawk kept a close watch on us.  It appeared to lift its one foot up and hold it off the branch for long periods of time.

Broad-winged hawk near Dorset in Ontario, Canada

The population of Broad-winged Hawks is relatively stable in North America, but numbers are declining in some breeding areas because of forest fragmentation.  This was the first time that Bob and I had come across a Broad-winged Hawk in the wild, so we were very pleased to have the chance to document it.

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2 comments

  • That broad-winged hawk probably just got back from either Florida, southern Mexico, or northern South America. But there are 5 subspecies in the Caribbean, which do not migrate. That is the reason why the West Indies is not a wintering ground for North American broad-winged hawks, so they do not compete with the West Indian subspecies.