The genus Buteo includes numerous hawks or “buzzards” that are very diverse in their size, shape, and plumage. The group is sometimes called the “broadwings” due to their large broad wings that allow them to soar effortlessly on themals. In addition, they have short wide tails, large beaks, strong talons, and heavy feet.

Falconer with Harris's Hawk (Photo by J. Fincher)

These characteristics help them capture and hold relatively large prey. Though they often hunt from perches, they spend much of their time searching for prey from a soaring position. They have very acute vision with large eyes that can easily spot a field mouse a mile away. Their quarry consists of everything from insects and snakes, to birds and mammals. What is hunted is typicallly a function of what is available, as well as the size and level of experience of the hawk.

Falconer with Red-tailed Hawk

In the United States, the Buteos  that are most commonly used in falconry include the the Red-tailed Hawk and the Ferruginous Hawk. The Harris’s Hawk is also included in this group although it is actually in the Parabuteo genus. In falconry, Buteos generally hunt from a perched position, following from tree to tree, as the falconer (and sometimes a hunting dog) beats the bushes to flush game below.

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