Short-tailed Hawk

Buteo brachyurus




Kites, Eagles and Hawks (Accipitridae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Creamy white to pale blue marked with brown

Number of Eggs:

2 - 3

Incubation Days:


Egg Incubator:


Nest Location:

In tall trees.

Nest Material:

Sticks, leafy branches.





Short-tailed Hawk: Small hawk of grassland and woodland habitat in Florida. Occurs in two color morphs: Dark morph adult is uniformly dark brown with thin dark bands on a dull white tail. In flight shows white flight feathers with thin dark bands and dark wingtips. Sexes are similar. Juvenile dark morph resembles adult but has fine white spotting on belly, undertail, and underwings. Light morph adult has dark brown upperparts, white underparts, and rufous-brown patch on side of neck. Juvenile light morph has streaked dark upperparts and white underparts, but lacks rufous-brown neck patch.

Range and Habitat

Short-tailed Hawk: Resident in tropical and subtropical Mexico south to Brazil and Argentina. May wander further north to breed, into southeast Arizona, southwest New Mexico, and locally in the lower Rio Grande Valley. Also occurs in Florida. Found in a wide variety of mixed woodland and grassland habitats.

Breeding and Nesting

Short-tailed Hawk Dark Morph: Male supplies sticks for nest, but female does nearly all nest construction. Nests placed high in trees. Lays two to three creamy white to pale blue eggs marked with brown in March or April. Female incubates for 34 days while male brings her food. Fledgling period little known.

Foraging and Feeding

Short-tailed Hawk Dark Morph: Hunts exclusively from the air, dropping out of the sky to catch small birds by surprise, almost never perches except at night. Preys on birds that are on the ground or on the outer branches of trees.


Short-tailed Hawk: High drawn-out "keee."

Similar Species

Short-tailed Hawk: Swainson's Hawk light morph has a chest band and darker underwings.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
The ventral part of the bird, or the area between the flanks on each side and the crissum and breast. Flight muscles are located between the belly and the breast.
Flight feathersX
Located on the wing, and collectively called remiges (singular, remex). The long stiff feathers are subdivided into two major groups based on the location and are called primaries and secondaries.
Neck patchX
A sac located on the neck that is inflatable and is only visible in males during courtship displays.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X