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Great Black Hawk - BirdForum Opus

Adult, nominate subspecies
Photo © by Joseph Morlan
Rio Amazonas, Iquitos, Peru, 9 June 2019
Buteogallus urubitinga


Juvenile, nominate subspecies
Photo © by Dave B Smith
Tobago, 20 March 2011

51–64 cm (20-25 in)

  • Black overall plumage
  • White on the base and the tip of the tail
  • White rump
  • Yellow legs and cere (latter greyish in Central America).
  • May have barred tibials/thighs (esp. Central America)
  • Longer tail than Common Black Hawk but shorter primary projection


Extent of white on tail and color of lores is variable; subspecies ridgwayi has two white bands on the tail, of which the upper is narrow and often concealed, and slaty lores. This subspecies also often shows some white barring on thighs.

Similar species

Compare with Common Black Hawk and the rare Solitary Eagle


Central and South America: found from Mexico to Bolivia, Argentina, and Uruguay.



There are two subspecies[1]:

  • B. u. ridgwayi:
  • B. u. urubitinga:


Habitats from open country to forest but is normally to be seen near water.


Juvenile, nominate subspecies
Photo © by Rogerio Araújo Dias
Brasília, Brazil, 24 August 2006


Nests mostly in rainy season. The stick nest is usually placed in a tree or sometimes on a man-made structure. Clutch of one, rarely two white eggs with brown spots.


A wide variety of prey, including birds, rodents, land crabs, frogs and fish. They are also known to eat fruit. Have been observed feeding in the company of caracaras and vultures.


Common call is a long drawn-out high-pitched scream, very unlike the laughing call of Common Black Hawk.


Mostly sedentary; individuals of northern race may wander into Chocó of Colombia with at least one stray juvenile north to Maine, USA.


Click on photo for larger image


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Bierregaard, R.O., Jr, Boesman, P. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Great Black Hawk (Buteogallus urubitinga). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/53113 on 3 July 2019).
  3. Global Raptor Information Network. 2019. Species account: Great Black Hawk Buteogallus urubitinga. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 2 Jul. 2019
  4. van Dort, J. (2019). Great Black Hawk (Buteogallus urubitinga), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.grbhaw1.01
  5. Identification of the black hawks (Buteogallus)

Recommended Citation

External Links

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