(Buteo regalis). Patient Number 22-198.
Date of admission: May 14, 2022.
Reason for admission: Trapped in barbed wire.
The Ferruginous Hawk is the largest soaring Buteo Hawk. The genus Buteo includes medium to large-sized, wide-ranging raptors. They can be identified by their long wings and large heads. Ferruginous Hawk wings narrow to form more pointed tips than what is typical for hawks. They have a white stomach, rust-colored legs, a pale head, and rusty upperparts. The name Ferruginous originated from the Latin word for rust. They are roughly 1.5kg and can be anywhere between a Raven and a goose in size. They are easily differentiated from other hawks by their brown “V,” which can be seen along the underparts of their tail and legs.
Ferruginous Hawks soar with their wings held slightly raised and wingtips flat. They turn in the wind and hover in place when hunting. They hunt by watching for prey in the sky or from a raised perch. They have been found to hunt on the ground near an active burrow as well.
They live in open spaces of the west, in the plains and prairies, where grassland rodents are abundant. They are found in all seasons across open dry land. During the winter they can be found sitting in open agricultural fields. They feed on small to medium-sized mammals including ground squirrels, snakes, young jackrabbits, gophers, and mice.
Unfortunately, their population is threatened due to hunting and habitat loss. The current population now could be lower than 4000 mating pairs. This hawk came to us from east of Airdrie, on May 14. A volunteer of AIWC found it entrapped in a barbed-wire fence, fighting off magpies. The hawk did suffer a tear in the wings patagium, which we were able to repair in surgery. She was returned to the wild in late May.