Rough-legged hawk

Buteo lagopus

NH Conservation Status: Not listed.

Federal Status: Not listed; Rough-legged hawks are legally protected in New Hampshire. Possession and take (which includes harming, harassing, injuring and killing) is illegal.

Distribution: Uncommon. Winters throughout the state. More commonly found from New York west to the Great Lakes.

Description: 18-20” long with a 48-56” wingspan. Feathers on legs down to the toes. Black wrist patches. White at base of the tail.

Voice: A long, descending, “kaaaaaar”

Commonly Confused Species: Northern harriers are slimmer and have white rumps. Red-tailed hawks have darker heads, dark edges of wings instead of wrist patches.

Habitat: During winter roosts in conifer stands and hunts over open areas such as fields, farms, pastures, and marshes.

Nesting: Nests are made of sticks and built on cliffs. Females lay 1-7 eggs. Chicks are born covered in down and helpless.

Diet: Primarily small mammals. Occasionally hares and cottontails. Populations fluctuate with changes in abundance of mice, lemmings, and meadow voles.