People passionate about nature

Broad-winged Hawk

Above: Broad-winged Hawk (photo by Garry Budyk)

What does it look like?

Broad-winged Hawks are compact with a large head.  Light morph individuals are the norm in Manitoba (dark morphs are common in the west); adults of both sexes are brown above and whitish below with a somewhat variable amount of rufous barring on the chest (at times on the belly as well).  The tail is distinctly barred and rather short.  The wings, as their common name suggests, are broad; ventrally, the dark border on the trailing edge of the wings is conspicuous when in flight.  Juveniles are lighter brown with much streaking on the underparts.

Above: Broad-winged Hawk (photo by Garry Budyk)

Does it migrate?

Broad-winged Hawks winter mainly in Mexico, Central and South America, as far south as Bolivia.  Some individuals may occasionally overwinter in southeastern US states.

Where do they live?

Though primarily eastern, nesting occurs from British Columbia to Manitoba and eastward to the Maritimes (excluding Newfoundland and Labrador), south to Florida and westward to east Texas.  Breeding pairs nest in trees in mature mixed woodlands (sometimes in boggy coniferous forest) where there are openings in the tree canopy (these openings are important hunting areas).  The main breeding range in Manitoba is in the southern half of the province, though some individuals may nest as far north as Gillam, Lynn Lake and Shamattawa.

Above: Broad-winged Hawk Juvenile (photo by Peter Taylor)

Where can I see it?

Provincial forests and parks.  Occasionally seen in numbers in migration (one to two hundred individuals) at locations such as Lynch's Point on Lake Manitoba, or Whytewold on Lake Winnipeg.

Above: Broad-winged Hawk (photo by Garry Budyk)


Manitoba's breeding populations have shown long-term stability, however, a dependance on mature trees for nesting make the species subject to local forest harvesting policies.  Elsewhere in Canada, populations are rising.

Did you know?

While Broad-winged Hawks do prey on birds, small mammals and insects, the bulk of their diet consists mainly of amphibians and reptiles.

Above: Broad-winged Hawk (photo by Garry Budyk)

Written by Deanna Dodgson