Common Black Hawk

Common Black Hawk

Kingdom
Phylum
Class
Family
Genus
SPECIES
Buteogallus anthracinus
Population size
2 mln
Life Span
13.5 yrs
WEIGHT
793-1200 g
LENGTH
43-53 cm
WINGSPAN
122-127 cm

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.

Distribution

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.

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

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.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Common black hawks are carnivores. They feed mainly on crabs, but will also take small vertebrates and eggs.

Mating Habits

REPRODUCTION SEASON
late February-late May
INCUBATION PERIOD
40 days
INDEPENDENT AGE
15-16 weeks
FEMALE NAME
hen
MALE NAME
tiercel
BABY NAME
eyas
BABY CARRYING
1-3 eggs

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.

Population

Population threats

Common black hawks suffer from the destruction of the wetland habitat they depend on and are also vulnerable to disturbances.

Population number

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.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • The Common black hawk has hybridized naturally with Red-shouldered hawk in Sonoma County, California, USA. This natural hybridization between different genera of hawks is rare.
  • Hawks have very acute eyesight and can locate the prey from a distance of 100 feet (30 m).
  • Hawks are able to differentiate the colors!
  • Hawks are acrobatic fliers and are able to even fight over food in flight!

References

1. Common Black Hawk on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_black_hawk
2. Common Black Hawk on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/22735514/113552417

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