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Common Black Hawk

Buteogallus anthracinus

Common Black Hawk, Buteogallus anthracinus, photo © by Mike Plagens

Common Black Hawk observed along lower Fish Creek, Superstition Mountains, Maricopa Co., Arizona, USA. May 2009. Notice the beak is open - the bird was loudly protesting my presence.

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Water, the essential ingrediant in riparian habitat within the Sonoran Desert, has been largely diverted to use by humans, leaving precious few stretches of flowing water and galleries of huge shade trees. This is the habitat required for Common Black Hawks to hunt and nest and so their populations have dwindled as well. Look along flowing streams in the Upper Sonoran Desert where there are large Sycamores and Cottonwoods. Common Black Hawks hunt especially for aquatic animals such as fish and frogs. Come winter these hawks leave the Sonoran Desert and head south into the Neotropics and do not return until late March or April.

They nest high in the canopy trees near water and will begin squawking at hikers that rudely intrude on their protected zone - any place closer than 100 meters. The broad, all black wings, and the white band in the tail are diagnostic. The somewhat similar Zone-tailed Hawk has longer wings and two narrow white bands in the tail.

Spring + Summer Breeder - Migrates to Tropics for Winter

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2009