This medium-sized buteo is named for the upperwing coverts which form a rufous patch on the wings. Three distinctive subspecies, with western birds darker above and brighter rufous on head and breast than the widespread eastern form; Florida birds are extremely pale overall. Adult: Upperparts are dark brown with coarse white mottling and the rufous shoulder patch. The tail is blackish with narrow white bands. Underparts have extensive rufous barring. In flight, rufous shoulder patches visible from above. From below, rufous underparts and wing coverts contrast black-barred flight feathers. Translucent primary bases form pale crescent-shaped windows near the wingtips. Juvenile: Brown upperparts with white mottling. Shoulder patches are less distinct. Tail is dark with narrow buff bands. Juvenile western birds are similar to adults, with rufous barring on belly. Their tails have fewer bands than the immatures of the other subspecies.
Length: 43 (cm) Wingspan: 81 (cm)
A two-syllable, descending KEEE-yerrr, KEEE-yerrr, KEEE-yerrr.
Mature woodlands near water, riparian woods.
Flight is accipiter-like, with glides interspersed with quick flapping. Perching posture is nearly vertical with head facing down. Commonly perches on utility wires.
Perch hunts for small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, occasionally crayfish.
Expanded Life History
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