White Hawk

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Image:WhiteHawk.jpg

Common Name: White Hawk
Scientific Name: Pseudastur albicollis Size: 18-22 inches (46-56 cm); Wingspan: 41 inches (103 cm)

Habitat: Central and South America; It ranges from southern Mexico through Central and South America to Peru, Bolivia and Brazil. It also breeds on Trinidad. The white hawk's range in central South America is the entire Amazon basin, from the Andes on the west to the Guianas on the Atlantic on the northeast, and to the transition lands to the south.

It prefers well-watered tropical regions where the dry season is not too long, but it avoids deep, unbroken rain forest, except around swampy areas where the forest is more thinned out.

Status: Least Concern. Global population: 20,000-49,999 adult individuals with a decreasing population trend. This species is suspected to lose up to 25% of suitable habitat within its distribution over three generations (23 years), therefore suspected to decline by 25% over three generations.

Diet: Reptiles (tree snakes and lizards) make up a 70% of their diet. It supplements its diet with some insects and mammals, caught in a sortie from a perch. It associates with foraging groups of tufted capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) and South American coatis (Nasua nasua) to snatch prey startled by these animals.

Nesting: While sexes are alike, females are noticeably larger than males. It has very broad wings and a white head, body and underwings. The upper wings are black, and the very short tail is black with a broad white band. The bill is black and the legs are yellow. Immature birds have extensive black spotting on the upperparts and dark-streaked whitish underparts.

White hawks in Guatemala begin courtship displays and nest building in February, and by mid-to-late March egg laying and incubation begins. This species has a spectacular aerial courtship display. Several different species of trees are utilized as nest sites. Only one pair reoccupied a nest tree from a previous breeding season. The nest height averages 22 m above the ground. It builds a large stick platform nest. Clutch size is one dark-blotched blue-white egg. The young fledge in June and July.

Cool Facts: The White Hawk has been reclassified from Leucopternis to the Pseudastur species recently.

There are four subspecies:

  • P. a. ghiesbreghti. Found from Southern Mexico to Nicaragua. It is entirely white, except for black markings on the outer primaries, and a black sub-terminal tail bar. The eyes are yellow.
  • P. a. costaricensis. Found from Honduras to Panama and Colombia. It is similar to P. a. ghiesbreghti but with more distinct black markings on the wings and tail. The eyes are brown.
  • P. a. williaminae. Found locally in north-western Colombia and western Venezuela. The wing feathers are more heavily marked with black, and it has black streaks on the crown and collar. The tail band is broader and the eyes are brown.
  • P. a. albicollis. The nominate race. Found from Northern Colombia and central Venezuela to Brazil. It is smaller than the northern forms and the wings are mostly black, with white markings. The black tail band extends to the base of the tail and the eyes are brown.


This 3D model is found in Songbird ReMix Birds of Prey Volume III: Hawks of the New World

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