The Savanna Hawk

The savanna hawk is a hefty raptor found in open savanna and swamp edges. It was formerly placed in the genus Heterospizias.  The Savanna Hawk is widespread raptor and their habitats throughout the lowlands of tropical and subtropical South America. The savanna hawk has very long legs and thus is able to easily walk on the ground to catch its prey, or, like other birds, it can swoop down from the sky or a tree.

The savanna hawk length is 46 to 61 cm and weighs 845 g. The adult hawk has a rufous body with grey mottling above and fine black barring below. The flight feathers of the long broad wings are black, and the tail is banded black and white. Savanna hawk legs are yellow color and call is a loud scream keeeeru. Savanna hawk nest consist of sticks lined with grass and built in a palm tree. Though, the clutch is a single white egg, and the young take 6.5 to 7.5 weeks to fledging. Savanna Hawks can often be found walking through burning fields, a few feet behind the flames, searching for toasted prey.

Immature birds are similar to the adults but have darker, duller upperparts, paler underparts with coarser barring, and a whitish supercilium. This species perches very vertically, and its legs are strikingly long. Savanna Hawk normally breeds from Panama and Trinidad south to Bolivia, Uruguay and central Argentina. Its foraging strategy is equally diverse, and it will capture prey on the wing, from perches, or even by stalking on foot. It is also the most distinctive member of Buteogallus, with considerable gray patterning overlaying a rufous body.

Savanna hawks build their nests out of sticks in palm trees, thorny trees or mangroves and use this same nest year after year. Its eggs however are sometimes eaten by larger birds, snakes and other animals that live in trees. The savanna hawk scientific name is “Buteogallus meridionalis” feeds on small mammals, lizards, snakes, crabs and large insects. It usually sits on an open high perch from which it swoops on its prey, but will also hunt on foot, and several birds may gather at grass fires. The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion, hence the species is evaluated as Least Concern.