Rough Legged Hawk

Rough-Legged Hawk

Cold temperatures are no match for feathers like these. We are home to male rescue ‘Toughie’.

A dapper dappled coat, perfect for blending in

The rough-legged hawk gets its name from the feathers that run down their legs all the way to their talons, keeping the bird warm in frigid temperatures. After breeding in the Arctic tundra, rough-legged hawks make their way south to open fields and grasslands. This hawk is known for its ability to hover, watching for movement with its keen eyes.


  • IUCN Red List Status: Least Concern (at relatively low risk of extinction)
  • Type: Bird
  • Habitat: Canadian tundra and open plains and grasslands of southern Canada and the northern United States
  • Diet: Carnivore – lemmings, voles, and birds
  • Size: 18.5 to 20.5 inches; 52 to 54-inch wingspan
  • Weight: 715 to 1400 grams
rough-legged hawk rough-legged hawk

Care & Conservation

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facts about our animals

Fun Facts about Rough-Legged Hawks

In breeding season, mating pairs will circle together high in the air in a sky dance.

When they soar, rough-legged hawks raise their wings in a slight dihedral, or V-shape.

Rough-legged hawks have variable plumage, with light and dark morphs.

They use cliffs as their nest sites.

Both parents raise their young.

Their alarm calls sound like a cat’s loud “mew” sound.

rough-legged hawk


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