Short-tailed Hawk

The Short-tailed Hawk, scientifically known as Buteo brachyurus, is a fascinating bird of prey that belongs to the family Accipitridae. These birds are medium-sized raptors that are found in parts of South and Central America, including Brazil, Argentina, Panama and Costa Rica.

Basic Description

The Short-tailed Hawk has a distinctive appearance with its short tail and broad wingspan. The adults have dark brown feathers on their back while their underparts are white with barred streaks or spots. Juvenile birds have an overall reddish-brown coloration on the upper parts and buff-colored underparts.

These hawks measure between 42-52 cm in length and weigh about 480-720 grams. They have yellow eyes with a pale blue-grey cere (the fleshy area surrounding their nostrils).

Where To Find This Bird

Short-tailed Hawks can be spotted across a range of habitats like tropical forests, savannas, grasslands and wetlands throughout South America up to Panama in Central America.


These raptors favor dense vegetation cover but can also be observed soaring above open areas like pastures or mangrove swamps looking for prey from high perches such as trees or utility poles.


Their diet consists mainly of small mammals such as rodents or bats along with reptiles like lizards and snakes which they catch either while perched on low branches or by flying over the ground level vegetation where potential prey may hide from direct sunlight exposure.

Cool Facts

1) The Short-tailed hawk is one of very few bird species that uses “cooperative hunting” techniques since several individuals may gather together to flush out targets hidden within thick foliage.

2) Due to its secretive nature it was discovered only two centuries ago despite being present in areas inhabited by humans for millennia.

3) Although not considered endangered at this time because they reside outside urban areas and are not heavily hunted, loss of habitat due to deforestation or conversion into agricultural land is a potential threat.

4) Their migrations appear to follow the seasonal changes in rainfall patterns along with following prey movements.

In conclusion, the Short-tailed Hawk is an impressive bird of prey that deserves our admiration for its unique appearance and hunting behaviors. To spot one requires patience and attention while walking through tropical areas where they may be perched overhead. The best time of day to observe them is early morning or late afternoon when temperatures are cooler, so plan ahead for your next birding adventure!