The White hawk is a widespread bird of prey that breeds in the tropical New World. It has very broad wings, a white head, body, and underwings. The upper wings are black, and the very short tail is black with a broad white band. The bill is black and the legs are yellow. Immature birds have extensive black spotting on the upperparts and dark-streaked whitish underparts.
White hawks range from southern Mexico through Central and South America to Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil. They also breed on Trinidad. Their range in central South America is the entire Amazon basin, from the Andes on the west to the Guianas on the Atlantic on the northeast, and to the transition lands to the south. White hawks inhabit tropical dry forests, rainforests, and other woodlands.
White hawks are generally solitary and diurnal birds. They are often seen soaring singly or sometimes in pairs and have a spectacular aerial courtship display. White hawks hunt by day waiting quietly on a perch inside the canopy. They also associate with foraging groups of Tufted capuchin monkeys and South American coatis to snatch prey startled by these animals. In order to communicate with each other White hawks produce a plaintive kerwee.
Little information is known about the mating system in White hawks. However, hawks are generally monogamous breeders and pairs mate for life. They build a large stick platform nest in a tree usually lined with leaves. The female lays 1 dark-blotched blue-white egg and incubates it about 34-38 days. The young fledge between 65-88 days of age.
White hawks are not considered globally threatened. However, they suffer from deforestation of their habitat and the number of these raptors declines wherever forests are destroyed.
According to the IUCN Red List, the total White hawk population size is around 20,000-49,999 individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List but its numbers today are decreasing.