This southern raptor is occasionally mistaken for a falcon, but the buoyant flight style is very un-falconlike. Adult: Dark gray overall, with blackish primaries and tail. The head is paler gray on females, whitish on males. A small black patch surrounds the red eye. In flight, the silvery white secondaries create a panel on the upper wing surface. The bases of the primaries are often rufous on the upper surface. The outermost primary is notably shorter than the other primaries. The long tail appears squared or slightly notched. Juveniles: Upperparts are dark gray-brown with light mottling and pale feather edges. Underparts are whitish with dark brown streaks. In flight, the underwing coverts are reddish brown and mottled. The dark tail shows two or three white bands. Subadult birds have increased amounts of gray plumage, but retain the mottled wing linings and banded tail.
Length: 33 (cm) Wingspan: 86 (cm)
Eastern population prefers mature woodlands. Plains population found in open woods, savannah, mixed prairie, urban areas, parks.
Aggressively defends nesting territory for other species, including humans. Dives at intruders sometimes making contact.
Feeds primarily on large insects caught in flight, but occasionally captures small amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.
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