Rough-Legged Hawks Soar Through Utah Skies

A Sight to Behold

Winter in Utah brings with it a unique set of sights and sounds, from the snow-capped peaks of the Wasatch Mountains to the murmuring of snow melting on the ground. But perhaps the most striking sight of all is that of the Rough-Legged Hawks soaring through the skies.

Rough-Legged Hawks (Buteo lagopus) are large and powerful raptors that are a common sight in Utah in the winter months. They can be seen hovering in the air, scanning for prey, or soaring gracefully in the sky. These birds are a sight to behold, and it’s no wonder that they have become an iconic symbol of the winter season in Utah.

A Unique Raptor

Rough-Legged Hawks are a large and powerful raptor that can reach up to 23 inches in length and have a wingspan of up to 56 inches. They are easily identifiable by their characteristic white tail and belly, black and gray wings, and bright yellow legs. They have a distinctive flight pattern, often soaring in wide circles and then diving suddenly to grab prey.

Rough-Legged Hawks are also unique in that they are one of the few raptors that are capable of hovering in mid-air. They do this by flapping their wings rapidly and then adjusting their feathers to create an air cushion that allows them to remain in one spot for an extended period of time. This makes them particularly effective hunters, as they can use this technique to spot prey from far away and swoop in to capture it.

A Versatile Diet

Rough-Legged Hawks are versatile predators and they have a wide range of prey that they feed on. They are most commonly seen hunting small mammals, such as mice, voles, and rabbits, but they also eat a variety of other animals, such as reptiles, amphibians, and even some birds. They will also eat carrion, which is the remains of dead animals, and are even known to scavenge for food in garbage dumps.

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A Symbolic Sight

For many Utahns, the sight of Rough-Legged Hawks soaring through the sky is symbolic of the winter season. It’s a reminder that winter is here and that it won’t be long until the days start to grow longer and the snow begins to melt. For birdwatchers, it’s also a reminder of the beauty of nature and the incredible diversity of bird species that can be found in Utah.

A Conservation Success Story

Rough-Legged Hawks are a conservation success story. In the early 1900s, their population in Utah began to decline due to hunting and habitat destruction. In response, conservationists and biologists began working to protect the species and its habitat. Thanks to their efforts, the Rough-Legged Hawk population has made a remarkable recovery and is now thriving in Utah.

A Winter Staple

Rough-Legged Hawks are a common sight in the winter months in Utah, and for many, they have become a winter staple. Whether you are an avid birdwatcher or just an admirer of nature, the sight of these majestic birds soaring through the sky is sure to bring a smile to your face. So take a moment to stop, look up, and watch them soar – you won’t regret it.



What is a Rough-Legged Hawk?

Answer: A Rough-Legged Hawk is a large hawk species of the Buteo genus that is native to North America and Eurasia.

Where Can I Find Rough-Legged Hawks?

Answer: Rough-Legged Hawks are most commonly found in northern parts of North America and Eurasia, but they have been known to migrate south during the winter months. In the United States, they can be found in Utah, Montana, and Wyoming.

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What Do Rough-Legged Hawks Eat?

Answer: Rough-Legged Hawks mainly eat small mammals, such as mice, voles, and lemmings. They have also been known to eat birds, reptiles, and insects.

What Time of Year do Rough-Legged Hawks Migrate?

Answer: Rough-Legged Hawks typically migrate in the fall, around October and November.

How Long is the Migration for Rough-Legged Hawks?

Answer: The migration for Rough-Legged Hawks can be as long as 3,000 miles, depending on the bird’s location.

What Do Rough-Legged Hawks Look Like?

Answer: Rough-Legged Hawks are large birds with a wingspan of up to 4.5 feet. They have dark brown heads, white throats, and light brown backs. Their undersides are white, and their legs are feathered, giving them a “rough-legged” look.

What Type of Habitat Do Rough-Legged Hawks Prefer?

Answer: Rough-Legged Hawks prefer open habitats, such as grasslands, tundra, and prairies. They are also known to inhabit agricultural fields, pastures, and sometimes even city parks.

Do Rough-Legged Hawks Nest in Utah?

Answer: Yes, Rough-Legged Hawks are known to nest in Utah and have been seen in the state during both breeding and non-breeding seasons.

How Many Eggs Does a Rough-Legged Hawk Lay?

Answer: Rough-Legged Hawks typically lay 3 to 5 eggs at a time.