Home | Species Database | Species Accounts | Bibliography | Researchers | Related Sites | Login

White Hawk
Pseudastur albicollis

Status: Lower risk

Population Trend: Unknown.

Other Names: Leucopternis albicollis, Costa Rican White Hawk (costaricensis), Ghiesbreght's Hawk (ghiesbreghti), Mexican White Hawk (ghiesbreghti), Snow Hawk, White-collared Hawk.

Pseudastur albicollis
click to enlarge
Distribution: Neotropical. Southern MEXICO (Oaxaca, Veracruz, Tabasco, Chiapas) south along the Caribbean slope of GUATEMALA, BELIZE, EL SALVADOR, and HONDURAS and both slopes of NICARAGUA, COSTA RICA, and PANAMA to western COLOMBIA and VENEZUELA south east of the Andes to eastern PERU, northern and eastern BOLIVIA , and Amazonian and eastern BRAZIL. more....

Subspecies: 4 races. L. a. ghiesbreghti: Southern MEXICO (Oaxaca and Veracruz) to GUATEMALA and BELIZE; L. a. costaricensis: HONDURAS to PANAMA and western COLOMBIA; L. a. williaminae: Northwestern COLOMBIA and extreme northwestern VENEZUELA (PerijŠ); L. a. albicollis: Eastern COLOMBIA, northwestern VENEZUELA, and the GUIANAS south through Amazonia to eastern PERU, eastern ECUADOR, northern and eastern BOLIVIA (La Paz, Santa Cruz), and central and eastern BRAZIL (central Mato Grosso and northern Maranh„o; TRINIDAD. more....

Taxonomy: Using sequences from four mitochondrial genes, Amaral et al. (2006) found that the genus Leucopternis, as traditionally arranged, is not monophyletic and that it is a composite of three independent lineages. The predominantly black and white plumage shared by several species has evolved at least twice. Based on samples from L.a. ghiesbreghti and L.a. costaricensis, their results support the treatment of L. albicollis as a superspecies with L. occidentalis and L. polionotus and showed that they represent a clade separate from other species traditionally assigned to Leucopternis. Lerner et al. (2008) analyzed sequences of both mitochondrial and nuclear genes for all four races of L. albicollis, L. occidentalis, and L. polionotus. They found that the White Hawk is not monophyletic and that the nominate race is more closely related to L. polionotus than to the other L. albicollis subspecies. Amaral et al. (2009) recommended placing albicollis, occidentalis, and polionotus in a separate genus Pseudastur, but Kocom (2006) and Lerner et al. (2008) argued that they should be merged into Buteo. The Brazilian Ornithological Records Committee recently decided to follow the treatment of Amaral et al. (op cit.), and a decision by the South American Checklist Committee is pending (Remsen et al. 2010). more....

Movements: Probably non-migratory.

Habitat and Habits: Occurs in lowlands and foothills in wet primary and late second-growth forested areas in hilly terrain, often perching for long periods on a dead stub at the forest edge or in clearings, less often within forest. Also frequently soars like a Buteo, singly, in pairs, or threes, in circles from 50-100 m above the canopy, especially in mid-morning, but tends to avoid passing over open spaces, including rivers and sandbars (Lowery and Dalquest 1951, Slud 1960). This species is often lethargic and easily approached (Slud 1964, Smythe 1966, Land 1970, Hilty and Brown 1986). Biologists conducting aerial surveys within the range of this species are invariably impressed by conspicuous White Hawks, as they soar over the green forest canopy (e.g., Monroe 1968). more....

Food and Feeding Behavior: Feeds mainly on snakes and lizards, but also takes a smaller number of small mammals, birds, amphibians, and large insects (Draheim 1995). Hunts inside canopy or at edges and gaps, waiting quietly on a perch and gliding to ground, tree trunk, or branch to capture prey. In French Guiana, White Hawks were regularly recorded following troops of capuchin monkeys to capture tree snakes that they flushed, and a hunting association was also demonstrated between these hawks and coatimundis (Booth-Binczik et al. 2004). more....

Breeding: The nest is a cupped platform made of coarse sticks, often lined with dead and green leaves, and placed high in a tree, usually in a mass of epiphytes. Nine nests were placed at an average height of 22.2 m off the ground in the forest at Tikal National Park, Guatemala (Draheim 1995). Clutch size is 1 egg, which is white or bluish-white with brown and reddish-brown markings. The average incubation period at 3 nests at Tikal was 35 days (34-38), and young fledged at 65, 66, and 88 days of age, according to Draheim (op cit.). He saw only females incubating, but both adults fed the young at the nest. more....

Conservation: Fairly common to common throughout most portions of its extensive range, but declines wherever forests are destroyed. Categorized as a species of "Least Concern" by BirdLife International (2007). more....

Important References: 
Amaral, F.S.R., M.J. Miller, L.F. Silveira, E. Bermingham, and A. Wajntal.
  2006. Polyphyly of the hawk genera Leucopternis and Buteogallus (Aves,
  Accipitridae): multiple habitat shifts during the Neotropical buteonine
  diversification. BMC Evolutionary Biology 6:1-10.
Bierregaard, R.O. 1994. White Hawk. Pp. 169-170 in del Hoyo, J., A.
  Elliott, and J. Sargatal (eds). Handbook of birds of the world. Vol. 2. New
  World vultures to guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.
Booth-Binczik, S.D., G.A. Binczik, and R.F. Labisky. 2004. A possible
  foraging association between White Hawks and White-nosed Coatis. Wilson
  Bulletin 116:101-103.
Draheim, G. 1995. Breeding biology and habitat requirements of the White
  Hawk (Leucopternis albicollis) in Guatemala. M.Sc. thesis, Boise State
  University, Boise, Idaho. 71 pp.
Draheim,G.S., D.F. Whitacre, A.M. Enamorado, O.A. Aguirre, and A.E.
2012. White Hawk. Pp. 120-138 in D.F. Whitacre (ed.),
  Neotropical birds of prey: biology and ecology of a forest raptor community.
  Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY.
Draheim, G.S, and O.A. Aguirre-Barrera. 1992. Breeding biology of the
  White Hawk. Pp. 153-162 in D.F. Whitacre and R.K. Thorstrom (eds.), Maya
  Project: use of raptors and other fauna as environmental indicators for
  design, management, and monitoring of protected areas and for building local
  capacity for conservation in Latin America. The Peregrine Fund, Inc., Boise,
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Lerner, H.R.L., M.C. Klaver, and D.P. Mindell. 2008. Molecular
  phylogenetics of the buteonine birds of prey (Accipitridae). Auk
Lerner, H.R., and D.P. Mindell. 2005. Phylogeny of eagles, Old World
  vultures, and other Accipitridae based on nuclear and mitochondrial DNA.
  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 37:327-346.
Zhang, S., and L. Wang. 2000. Following of Brown Capuchin Monkeys by White
  Hawks in French Guiana. Condor 102:198-201. more....

Sites of Interest:
White Hawk photos.
Aves de Rapina do Brasil
Species account with emphasis on Brazil.

Beers, Roy
Feas, Fernando
Gallardo Del Angel, Julio Cesar
Martinez-Fernandez, Alberto
Shrum, Peggy

Last modified: 2/13/2013

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2020. Species account: White Hawk Pseudastur albicollis. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 4 Jul. 2020

Home | Species Database | Species Accounts | Bibliography | Researchers | Related Sites | Login

Copyright © 1999-2012 The Peregrine Fund. All Rights Reserved.