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January 25, 2022

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Sunday, November 14, 2021

Return of Bird of the Week: Black-collared Hawk

Black-collared Hawk, Pantanal, Brazil

Black-collared Hawk, Pantanal, Brazil

It’s a gorgeous bird, bright cinnamon with thin black lines, a white head and the black bib that gives the species its common name. It’s unmistakeable in the field. And while it is an Accipter – like a Sharp-shinned or Cooper’s Hawk in North America – it’s evolved into a different ecological niche entirely. This is the Neotropics’ analogue to an Osprey, a species that primarily hunts and feeds on fish.

It’s widely distributed, from Mexico to Argentina. As you’d expect from its diet, it is most frequently found along waterways, but rarely at high densities.

Black-collared Hawk, Darién, Panama

Black-collared Hawk, Darién, Panama

It’s monotypic – the sole member of the genus Busarellus, with two subspecies. The color variation across its range is striking, but that may simply be a consequence of feather wear and sun bleaching; the very limited literature on Black-collared Hawk is silent on true geographic variation. An adult bird is 21-23 inches long, with a wingspan of about four feet, slightly smaller than an adult Osprey.

Like Osprey, they capture food with their talons, rather than plunge-diving.

There is very little specific information on the population size of the Black-collared Hawk, but they are not believed to be endangered or threatened.  Based upon limited bird count data, they  have a steady population.

For more bird photographs, please visit Frozen Feather Images.

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