Bella – Rough-legged Hawk
In August 2011, the World Bird Sanctuary received a call from a wildlife rehab organization in Wisconsin asking if we would be willing to take some of their permanent resident raptors and some who were almost ready to be released. Because of a series of violent storms and tornadoes that ripped through their area they were being inundated with injured and orphaned birds of prey and needed the resident birds’ housing space to accommodate the many birds that needed treatment. Two volunteers from WBS drove to Wisconsin to pick up sixteen birds. Bella was one of these. She was unreleasable due to an eye injury, and had been used as an education bird in Wisconsin.
The WBS staff and volunteers were very excited to receive this gorgeous raptor since we did not have this species amongst our staff of education birds. We promptly named her Bella, which means “beautiful” in Italian. It seemed to fit her, since this is the first word everyone uses to describe her. Bella has been a welcome addition to our roster of education birds. She is very calm and laid back, and has adjusted easily to life at World Bird Sanctuary.
Species: Rough-legged Hawk
Latin Name: Buteo lagopus
Description: medium-large bird of prey; plumage predominantly brown with a high degree of speckling, with a wide variation in plumage patterns including light and dark morphs and color variations between males, females and juveniles; all plumages include long white tail feathers with one or more dark subterminal bands; wing tips are long enough to reach or extnd past the tail when perched; feet are feathered to the toes (hence the name); talons are relatively small; a broad brown chestband is present in most plumages with a square dark carpal patch contrasting with the white under-wing in light morph individuals
Sex: females larger than males; sexually mature at 2 years old
Weight: 1.5-3 lbs.
Habitat: breeds in unforested open ground
Status: Least concern; 3 recognized subspecies
Range: Arctic and Subarctic regions of North America and Eurasia during breeding season; migrates south in winter
Behavior: bulky stick nests typically located on cliffs, bluffs or in trees; clutch sizes vary with food availability, typically 2-7 eggs; incubation is 28-31 days; young fledge at 5-6 weeks
Diet: primarily lemmings and voles; will also take small mammals and birds; diurnal (sometimes crepuscular (dusk and dawn) hunter; hunts from a perched or hovering position
- One of the few large birds of prey known to regularly hover – This hawk is a member of the genus Buteo, which are known as buzzards in Europe
- Some evidence suggests these hawks may be able to see vole scent marks which are only visible in the ultraviolet range