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Common Black Hawk
Buteogallus anthracinus

Status: Lower risk

Population Trend: Stable.

Other Names: Buteogallus subtilis, Common Black-hawk, Crab Hawk, Lesser Black Hawk, Black Crab Hawk. Urubitinga anthracina, Mangrove Black-hawk, Mexican Black Hawk (anthracinus), Pacific Black-hawk.

Buteogallus anthracinus
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Distribution: Nearctic/Neotropical. Southwestern UNITED STATES through Central America to COLOMBIA, western ECUADOR, western PERU, VENEZUELA, and GUYANA; TRINIDAD and ST. VINCENT. more....

Subspecies: 3 races. B. a. anthracinus: Southwestern and southern UNITED STATES (Utah to Texas) south through Central America to PANAMA and northern COLOMBIA, along Caribbean coast to northwestern GUYANA, TRINIDAD; ST. VINCENT; B. a. utilensis: HONDURAS (Utila and Guanaja Is. in the Gulf of Honduras); B.a. subtilis: Pacific coast of eastern PANAMA, COLOMBIA, ECUADOR, and northwestern PERU. more....

Taxonomy: Formerly placed in the genus Urubitinga or even Morphnus. The mangrove-inhabiting black hawks of the Pacific coast from southwestern Mexico to northwestern Peru have often been treated as a separate species, B. subtilis (Amadon 1961, Monroe 1963, 1968, Stresemann and Amadon 1979, Amadon and Bull 1988, Sibley and Monroe 1990, Thiollay 1994, AOU 1998, Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2002), but were regarded as conspecific with B. anthracinus by Hellmayr and Conover (1949), Wetmore (1965), Blake (1977), Stiles and Skutch (1989), Howell and Webb (1995), and Ridgely and Greenfield (2001), based on apparent overlap in the color and size characters that purportedly separate the forms. The latter view seems more convincing and is further supported by a recent detailed morphological study by Clark (2007). Based on analyses of mitochondrial and nuclear genes, Lerner et al. (2008) found virtually no divergence between samples of B. anthracinus and B. subtilis, and the AOU Committee on Classification and Nomenclature recently recommended treating B. subtilis as a subspecies of B. anthracinus (Banks et al. 2008). However, Amaral et al. (2009) continued to treat B. subtilis as a separate species, while acknowledging that it is not genetically differentiated from B. antrhacinus. more....

Movements: Partial migrant (Bildstein 2006). Northernmost breeding populations in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico usually migrate southward in the non-breeding season (AOU 1998). Island endemic populations are probably non-migratory.

Habitat and Habits: Occurs in lowlands and middle elevations, generally near water in marshes, swamps, and mangroves, or in along rivers and streams, but also in pinelands and riparian habitats in arid regions in the more northern parts of its range (southwestern United States, Oaxaca, Belize). It spends most of its time perched well up in trees, but obtains most of prey on the ground. Soars a great deal, often in pairs, probably for territorial purposes. more....

Food and Feeding Behavior: Feeds on small birds, small mammals, reptiles, frogs, crabs, sea turtle hatchlings, bird eggs and nestlings, and carrion. May hunt from a hidden low perch, often near water, or run about on the beach catching crabs. more....

Breeding: The nest is a platform of sticks, lined with green leaves and twigs, and placed in a fork near the top of a tree. The clutch size is 1 egg among tropical populations and 2-3 eggs (most often 2) in the northern portions of the range. The eggs are dull bluish-white and sparsely spotted with reddish-brown and violet-brown markings. Nests are used in successive years (Sadoti 2008), and a replacement clutch is laid after a nest failure (Thomas 1908). Both sexes incubate, but the female incubates more often (80%) and for longer periods than the male (Barradas-García and Morales-Mávil 2007). Males typically hunt and provide prey to the female and the nestlings, but females are more active in nest defense against potential predators (Barradas-García and Morales-Mávil op cit.). more....

Conservation: Fairly common or common throughout its extensive range. Populations breeding in riparian habitats in arid southwestern United States and northern Mexico are vulnerable to threats from agricultural clearing, flood control structures, lowered water tables, and invasive species (Hunter et al. 1987, Rosenberg et al. 1991, Ohmart 1994). Despite this, the Common Black Hawk is apparently undergoing a range expansion along a broad front in the southwestern United States (Schnell 1994, Raynor et al. 2011). Mangrove-dwelling populations in Central and northern South America are increasingly affected by habitat loss as the result of rapid expansion of shrimp farming and tourist developments. Categorized as a species of "Least Concern" by BirdLife International. more....

Important References: 
Bent, A.C. 1937. Life histories of North American birds of prey. Order
  Falconiformes (Part 1). U.S. National Museum Bulletin 167.
Bierregaard, R.O. 1994. Common Black Hawk. P. 173 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.
Boal, C.W., and R.W. Mannan. 1996. Conservation assessment for the Common
  Black-hawk (Buteogallus anthracinus). Unpublished report to
  U.S. Forest Service, Tonto National Forest. 76 pp.
Ferguson-Lees, J., and D.A. Christie. 2001. Raptors of the world. Houghton
  Mifflin, Boston, MA.
Sadoti, G. 2008. Nest-site selection by Common Black-Hawks in southwestern
  New Mexico. Journal of Field Ornithology 79:11-19.
Sadoti, G. 2010. Common Black-hawk (Buteogallus anthracinus). In J.-L.
  Cartron (ed.), The raptors of New Mexico. University of New Mexico Press,
  Albuquerque, NM.
Schnell, J.H. 1994. Common Black-hawk Buteogallus anthracinus. In A. Poole
  and F. Gill (eds.), The Birds of North America no. 122. Academy of Natural
  Sciences of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, and American Ornithologists'
  Union, Washington, D.C.

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

Eisermann, Knut
Moore, Stan

Last modified: 10/28/2012

Recommended Citation: Global Raptor Information Network. 2020. Species account: Common Black Hawk Buteogallus anthracinus. Downloaded from http://www.globalraptors.org on 4 Jul. 2020

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