Broad-winged Hawk

Buteo platypterus

The broad-winged hawk is a medium-sized bird of prey found throughout Minnesota. If you see a hawk with two white bands and two black bands on its broad tail, it's probably a broad-winged hawk.


General description: About the size of a crow, the broad-winged hawk has a dark back and is light beneath. When it is flying overhead, look for its broad, thickly striped tail.

Size: The broad-winged hawk is about 13 to 15 inches long, with a wingspan slightly under 3 feet.

Color: Adults have a dark brown back and a brown-barred breast. The dark tail has white stripes. Juvenile broad-winged hawks have brown, vertical barring on their chest.

Sounds: A high "keeeee" whistle is used to defend the broad-winged hawk's territory. The hawks also make a whining sound.


Male and female broad-winged hawks perform courtship dances in the spring. After couples pair up, they build a nest in a tree from twigs and branches. The female lays two to four light-colored eggs over a period of several days. She broods (sits on, to incubate) the eggs while the male brings her food. Eggs hatch after about a month, and both parents feed the young. The young fledge (learn to fly) at just over one month of age.


Broad-winged hawks eat rodents, insects, reptiles, amphibians, reptiles, and other birds. They skin frogs and snakes and remove the feathers from birds before they eat them.


Raccoon, great horned owl. Crows may take eggs and nestlings.

Broad-winged Hawk

Habitat and range

Broad-winged hawks are found throughout Minnesota's forested region. They are most common in northern forests. You may see one perched on a branch in a tree, watching for a meal to scurry by. They spend their winters in southern Florida and Central and South America.

Population and management

Broad-winged hawks are very common in Minnesota.

Fun facts

This is one of the few American hawks that migrates in groups. Thousands of broad-winged hawks migrate together in groups called kettles. Birders have seen 8,000 to 10,000 broad-winged hawks migrating over Hawk Ridge in Duluth in a single day.

Range Map

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