Fun Short-tailed Hawk Facts For Kids

Christian Mba
Oct 20, 2022 By Christian Mba
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Short-tailed hawk facts to explore the intelligent bird further.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.9 Min

Have you ever seen a bird soaring high and suddenly descend to pounce on its prey sharply? That might possibly be a Short-tailed hawk!

If it appears to be slightly smaller, about the size of a crow, and has an unusually short tail, it is clearly a Short-tailed hawk!

Did you know that these are strong, powerful birds with acute visual capability (eight times more than humans) to see their prey from great heights? They are amongst the most intelligent birds, which is evident in their innovation in diet habits.

The Short-tailed hawk, an American bird of prey, belongs to the family Accipitridae and is called Buteo brachyrus. This family also includes Old world vultures and eagles.

The Buteo group members are called hawks in America, but they are called buzzards and not considered true hawks in other parts of the world. Like other buzzards, they have a high-pitched scream!

This bird is unique to have a dark morph and is known as a Little black hawk, mostly in Florida and North America. The light morph is found in other parts of the world. Read on to discover all about them. You might also like our collection of articles on predator birds like the sea eagle and Hawaiian hawk.

Short-Tailed Hawk Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Short-Tailed Hawk?

A short-tailed hawk is a bird that is often seen flying with flat wings and tips bent upward. Its closest cousin is the broad-winged hawk but distinguished by its tail shape and wings. They are more often in flight and less often perched.

What class of animal does a Short-Tailed Hawk belong to?

Short-tailed hawks belong to the class Aves and family Accipitridae. These migratory birds make southern Florida their habitat.

How many Short-Tailed Hawks are there in the world?

Though the overall number of Short-tailed hawks is unknown, its Florida population is about 500. In other parts of the world, this bird is in large numbers.

Where does a Short-Tailed Hawk live?

The tailed hawk habitat is primarily lowland and foothill areas, typically up to 2500 ft heights which can sometimes go up to 4500 ft. These populations are found breeding in habitats of tropical and subtropical Americas, southeastern Brazil, and north Argentina until Central America.

They also extend until the mountains of the Mexico-Arizona border, southern Florida. They move newer habitats down south from Mexico to Costa Rica during migration. Only some populations are inclined to migrate.

What is a Short-Tailed Hawk's habitat?

During the mating season, the Short-tailed hawk buteo lives in habitats like mangroves or swamps with tall, dense, and wet tropical forests near water bodies. In the non-mating season, they mostly live in forest edges, pastures, open country regions near coastal areas.

Did you ever wonder why they prefer habitats such as open country regions and forest edges? The wind conditions and velocities in such areas aid their hunting style, which is unique!

These birds perch and nest on large trees while roosting. These species change their habitat during migration.

Who do Short-Tailed Hawks live with?

The Short-tailed hawk buteo generally leads a solitary life throughout the year except while breeding. During migration, they may form groups of 3-11 sometimes.

How long does a Short-Tailed Hawk live?

Though there is no information about the lifespan of a Short-tailed hawk specifically, it is generally known that hawks can live up to 20years.

How do they reproduce?

The short-tailed hawk (Buteo brachyurus) are monogamous birds with the breeding season starting from January to July every year. The male circles around the perched female, presenting her prey or nesting material before copulation.

Then they hold each other's talons, and both tumble down. The male gives a high-pitched squeal before mounting and then copulates for about five to seven seconds.

The female creates a nest with twigs, and the male helps gather the nest material. The nests are typically large and built on dense trees at a height. The female lays one to three eggs that are oval shape and bluish-white color, with or without speckles.

The incubation period is 34-39 days, while the male provides food for the female during this period. The eggs hatch, and nestlings weighing 35-55 g emerge. Chicks are fed by both parents twice or thrice a day.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the Short-tailed hawk buteo is Least Concern. These birds are not very common in their range; they are not a threatened species.

Only the Florida population is endangered due to its low numbers. It is considered endangered due to poor mating practices, reduction in the habitat of swamp forests and prairies, and geographic separation. In general, heatwaves, urbanization, heavy rains, and losing coastal areas due to rising sea levels could be potential threats to this bird.

Short-Tailed Hawk Fun Facts

What do Short-Tailed Hawks look like?

This species occurs as light and dark morphs, distinct and with no intermediaries. The light morph has white underparts and dark blackish-brown upperparts except for tail and flight feathers, which are broad-winged and have dark and gray bars.

The juvenile has a streaked face instead of white and equal-width tail bands, unlike the adult light morph, which has a broad bar at the tail tip.

The adult dark morph has dark brown upper and underparts. The tail and flight feathers are similar to the light morph, except the tail has darker gray bars. The dark morphs are also broad-winged.

The juvenile dark morph has a similar tail pattern as the light morph juvenile, and underparts have white spots. The adult dark morph is not completely dark brown. They are predominant in North America.

Short-tailed hawk facts to learn more about the sharp-eyed flying creature.

How cute are they?

More than being cute, short-tailed hawk birds appear strong, powerful, and in control. They can induce fear just by their looks and sharp beak capable of tearing apart the flesh of prey while hunting.

How do they communicate?

The Short-tailed hawk (Buteo brachyurus) is generally silent during the non-breeding season. It is probably an indication of either alarm or happiness!

We can hear their high-pitched, shrill - keeeee on occasions when humans approach their nesting. We can hear the same calls before or after mating and when the mate brings food for the female during incubation. We can also hear the chick's calls by squealing softly for feeding four to five days after they hatch.

How big is a Short-Tailed Hawk?

Within the species of Buteo, the Short-tailed hawks are relatively small size birds. They are similar to the size of a crow. Its width can almost double its overall size when it spreads its wings.

How fast can a Short-Tailed Hawk fly?

The Short-tailed hawk (Buteo brachyurus) is not known for its high speed during flight. But, did you know that the red-tailed hawk, a close cousin of this tailed hawk, has a flight speed as high as 118 mph?!

How much does a Short-Tailed hawk weigh?

An adult hawk can weigh anywhere between 0.9-1.5 lb (390-520 g). The female is slightly larger, though they are not distinguishable visually.

What are the male and female names of the species?

As per the field guide, these species are named B.Brachyurus. The male is called a male Short-tailed hawk, and the female is called a female Short-tailed hawk.

What would you call a baby Short-Tailed Hawk?

The baby, as soon as it hatches, is called nesting. As the days pass by, the small birds are called chicks.

What do they eat?

These bird species mostly eat small birds, but their diet occasionally consists of lizards, insects, snakes, and frogs. They feed on small adult birds and not nestlings.

Are they dangerous?

Generally, they are not dangerous to humans unless humans approach their nesting or the bird senses harm to the chicks.

Would they make a good pet?

These birds are predators! We cannot have them as pets. They can prey on your smaller pets in size, like puppies, and you need to protect them from being attacked.

Did you know...

Did you know that these birds have no known predators? Crows are only known as partial predators, to rob their eggs.

Ridgway's Hawks are one of the rarest hawks in the world and are listed as Critically Endangered.

This species is most active for a couple of hours after dawn and before sunset.

Is it good to have a Short-Tailed Hawk in your yard?

Yes, having a short-tailed hawk visit your backyard would be very interesting and beneficial to maintain a balanced ecosystem and habitat. Feeding on rodents, snakes, large insects, squirrels, and other animals, can keep them in check!

What does the Short-Tailed Hawk symbolize spiritually?

The soaring of hawks at great heights and their ability to see prey and potential threats from such heights symbolizes the ability to utilize higher vision and intuition to accomplish tasks and make important judgments.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our northern shoveler facts, and prairie falcon fun facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable short-tailed hawk coloring pages.

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Written by Christian Mba

Bachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Christian Mba picture

Christian MbaBachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Christian Mba is an experienced blogger and content writer with over a decade of experience. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Nigeria and has a keen interest in Python programming. Along with his writing and blogging expertise, he is also an SEO specialist with more than six years of experience. Chris, as he is commonly known, has a passion for music and enjoys playing the piano.

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