This small tropical buteo is regular in the U.S. only in Florida. At rest, the wingtips extend to the tip of the tail. In all plumages, the undersides of the outer primaries are white, contrasting with the darker inner primaries and secondaries. The broad wings make the tail appear shorter. A white patch at the lores and base of the forehead is often obvious. Among the Florida population, the majority of birds are of the dark morph. Dark Morph: Blackish overall. In flight, the underside of the tail shows indistinct narrow dark bands and a broader dark subterminal band. Black underwing coverts contrast with gray flight feathers. Juvenile dark birds show white speckles on the underparts and more even banding on the tail. Light Morph: Brownish black above, with small areas of chestnut on the sides of the upper breast. The throat is white, giving the dark head a helmeted look. The underparts are white and unmarked. In flight, white underwing coverts contrast with gray flight feathers. The tail shows narrow dark bands and a broader dark subterminal band. Juvenile light birds are browner above, with light streaking on the head. The sides of the upper breast show limited dark streaking, lacking the chestnut tones of the adult. Underparts are white. The tail shows narrow even bands.
Length: 38 (cm) Wingspan: 81 (cm)
Woodlands, savannah, marshes.
Usually seen in flight, this raptor seldom perches out in the open, preferring to perch within the forest canopy. Soars at considerable heights.
Small birds; occasionally small mammals and reptiles.
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