As the 'royal' Latin name suggests, this is the largest and heaviest hawk in North America. The Ferruginous Hawk is about midway in size between other buteo hawks and the Golden Eagle, which it resembles in body shape, diet, flight, and nesting habits. Females are larger then males, but the genders have similar plumage. The head is big and heavy-billed; the chest is large; the wings are long, broad, and pointed; the legs are feathered down to the feet, which are relatively small, considering the large prey they routinely take. Adults have a rufous-red color on the back and shoulders, and red leggings that form a conspicuous V-shape against a whitish body and tail when viewed in flight overhead. The wings are gray-brown above, with large white crescent-shaped patches on the upper wing surface. Outer wing tips are dark on both upper and lower surfaces. The tail is a mixture of pale rust and white or gray, and unbanded. The head is pale, with gray cheeks, a dark cap. A dark morph, or variety, form less than 10% of the population, and vary in color from dark red to dark brown.
Meet our resident Ferruginous Hawks: