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Savannah Hawk

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Aripo Research Station

The adult is generally rufous brown in colour above and below with the wing quills tipped black. The rufous brown is lighter on the bend of the wing, the wing linings, the thighs, and the bases of the flight feathers. The tail is black with a white band and tip. All of the underside, with the exception of the throat, are narrowly barred with black. The bill is black, the cere yellow, the eyes a dull orange-yellow and the feet and legs pale yellow or orange. There is a white area at each side of the base of the bill, and the crown is streaked with a dusky colour. This hawk has long legs and long broad wings. Both sexes are alike. The length is between 18 - 24 inches (46 -61 cm) and weight is approximately 845 grams.

Immature have upper parts mostly deep brown, with some rufous mottling on the shoulder, and the tail is black with a mottled greyish area at its centre. Beneath, the immature are buffy white with black areas on the sides of the chest and flanks and scattered blackish streaks elsewhere. 

The somewhat similar Fishing Hawk (Busarellus nigricollis) is a stockier bird with a more or less white head.

This resident of Trinidad is found in savannahs and at the edge of swamps. It is is often seen perching with an upright stance on a fence post, low stub, branch of a tree, or even on the ground. From its perch it plunges down to the ground to catch its prey. The Savannah Hawk is an opportunistic feeder, preferring snakes, fish, lizards and frogs. It also eats small mammals, insects, beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers, ants and spiders and occasionally birds. It is attracted to grass fires to capture prey escaping from the fire. This species has a number of calls - a high-pitched cry, 'kree-ce-ee-er', or 'skieh' that ends in a drawn-out wail.

Family - Hawks

Other Names - Red Winged Hawk

Latin Name - Heterospizias meridionalis

Range - Panama, Colombia, Bolivia, Argentina and Uruguay


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Aripo Research Station

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Last modified: February 16, 2008