Common black hawks are medium-sized raptors found in the Americas. They have very broad wings and are mainly black or dark gray in color. The short tail is black with a single broad white band and a white tip. The bill is black and the legs and cere are yellow. Immature birds are dark brown above with spotting and streaks. Their underparts are buff to whitish with dark blotches, and the tail has a number of black and white bars.
Common black hawks breed in the warmer parts of the Americas, from the Southwestern United States through Central America to Venezuela, Peru, Trinidad, and the Lesser Antilles (a group of islands in the Caribbean Sea). These are mainly coastal, resident birds of mangrove swamps, estuaries and adjacent dry open woodland; however, there are also inland populations, including a migratory population in north-western Mexico and Arizona.
Common black hawks are diurnal birds. They are often seen in pairs soaring with occasional lazy flaps in search of prey. Common black hawks hunt from a perch or may also catch prey on the ground. To communicate with each other, these birds use a distinctive piping spink-speenk-speenk-spink-spink-spink call.
Little information is known about the mating system in Common black hawks. However, like most of the hawk species, they may be monogamous and form pair bonds. With the start of the mating season, Common black hawks perform a talon-touching aerial courtship display. These birds breed from late February to late May. They build a platform nest of sticks 5-30 meters above the ground in a tree, often a mangrove. Nests are often reused and tend to grow bigger. The female lays 1 to 3 whitish with brown markings eggs and both parents incubate them around 40 days. The chicks fledge 10 weeks after hatching but usually stay with their parents 5 to 6 weeks more.
Common black hawks suffer from the destruction of the wetland habitat they depend on and are also vulnerable to disturbances.
According to the IUCN Red List, the total Common black hawk population size is around 2,000,000 mature individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List but its numbers today are decreasing.