Broad-winged hawk (Buteo platypterus)

A broad-winged hawk rests during fall migration at Edward Madigan State Park near Lincoln.

Broad-winged hawks belong to the same family as the common red-tailed hawk, but are smaller. They are not much larger than a crow. Broad-winged hawks are most often seen in Illinois at migration time when they may form huge flocks. Their migrations are very precise, usually occurring in mid-April and mid-September. Most of the hawks passing through Illinois have bred in Canada, Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin. They prefer to rest in heavily forested areas, but may be seen in parks as well. Soaring groups of birds circle together in formations known as "kettles." (Additional source: Illinois Department of Natural Resources news release)

Note the vertically aligned chest markings as compared to the horizontal "belly band" of the red-tailed hawk shown below.

Return to Home Page
 Quick Facts about broad-winged hawks:

Broad-winged hawks take a variety of prey including: mice, squirrels, chipmunks, small birds, snakes, frogs, crayfish, insects and earthworms.

When do we see them?

They are most often seen during spring and fall migration when they may form huge flocks of hundreds of birds.


Smaller than a red-tailed hawk.