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The Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus) is a small to medium-sized bird of prey, commonly found throughout North America, including the Mule Mountains near Bisbee, Arizona. This raptor is notable for its compact size, broad wings, and short tail, which make it easily distinguishable in flight.

Physical Description

  • Size: They are relatively small hawks, measuring about 13 to 17 inches in length, with a wingspan ranging from 31 to 40 inches.

  • Coloration: Adult Broad-winged Hawks have a distinctive pattern with brown heads, barred underparts, and broad black and white bands on their tails. Juveniles display similar patterns but with more muted tones.

Habitat and Distribution in Mule Mountains

  • Habitat: In the Mule Mountains, these hawks prefer deciduous or mixed woodlands, often near water sources. They are also known to inhabit canyons and mountainous areas, where thermal updrafts aid in their flight.

  • Seasonal Presence: Broad-winged Hawks are migratory birds. In Bisbee and the Mule Mountains, they are typically observed during their migration periods in the spring and fall.

Behavior and Diet

  • Diet: Their diet mainly consists of small mammals, insects, amphibians, and other small birds. They are adept hunters, often catching prey by a swift drop from a perch or by flying low through the forest.

  • Flight Pattern: The Broad-winged Hawk exhibits soaring flight with occasional flaps and is known for its spectacular migratory flocks, called "kettles," sometimes numbering in the thousands.

Breeding and Nesting

  • Nesting: These hawks build their nests in large trees, often choosing a spot hidden by dense foliage. The nest is constructed out of sticks and lined with softer materials.

  • Breeding Season: The breeding season typically begins in spring. The female usually lays 2 to 3 eggs, which both parents help incubate.

Conservation Status

  • Local Impact: In the Mule Mountains and the Bisbee area, the Broad-winged Hawk does not face significant threats. However, habitat loss and environmental changes can impact their populations.

  • Conservation Efforts: Conservation efforts focus on preserving woodland habitats and monitoring populations during migration periods.

Interesting Facts

  • Migration: One of the most fascinating aspects of the Broad-winged Hawk is its long-distance migration, with some birds traveling from North America to South America.

  • Local Observation: Birdwatchers in Bisbee often gather during migration seasons to observe the impressive flocks of Broad-winged Hawks passing through the area.

This bird is a remarkable example of the diverse wildlife found in the Mule Mountains and contributes significantly to the ecological balance and natural beauty of the region near Bisbee, Arizona.

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