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The Short-tailed Hawk is a relatively small bird of prey, scientifically known as Buteo brachyurus. This raptor is notable for its compact size and, as the name suggests, its unusually short tail. It is a somewhat rare sight in the Mule Mountains near Bisbee, Arizona, making any sighting a noteworthy event for bird enthusiasts and naturalists in the region.

Physical Description

  • Size and Shape: The Short-tailed Hawk is a medium-sized bird, measuring about 17 to 21 inches in length with a wingspan of approximately 37 to 40 inches. Its physique is robust with broad, rounded wings and a very short tail, which is a distinctive feature of the species.

  • Plumage: This species exhibits two color morphs: a dark morph and a light morph. The dark morph is predominantly sleek, dark brown or black, with some lighter mottling. The light morph, more common in the Mule Mountains area, has a white underbelly and chest, with dark brown or black upper parts, wings, and head.

  • Eyes and Beak: The Short-tailed Hawk has piercing yellow eyes that contrast sharply with its darker head feathers. The beak is hooked and strong, typical of raptors, and is well-adapted for tearing prey.

Habitat and Behavior

  • Habitat: In the Mule Mountains, these hawks typically inhabit wooded areas, preferring mixed forests that offer ample hunting opportunities and nesting sites. They are often seen soaring at high altitudes, using thermal updrafts for effortless flight.

  • Diet and Hunting: Their diet mainly consists of small mammals, birds, and reptiles. They are adept hunters, often striking from a high perch or from flight with swift, sudden dives.

  • Nesting: Short-tailed Hawks usually nest in tall trees, constructing their nests out of sticks and lining them with softer materials. The breeding season in the Mule Mountains typically begins in early spring.

Conservation Status

The Short-tailed Hawk is currently not listed as endangered or threatened. However, its rarity in regions like the Mule Mountains makes it an important species for local conservation efforts. Habitat preservation is crucial for maintaining the small populations in these areas.

Significance in Bisbee, Arizona

For the residents and birdwatching community of Bisbee, the presence of the Short-tailed Hawk in the Mule Mountains adds to the region's rich biodiversity. It is a species that underscores the importance of environmental conservation and the need to protect natural habitats for wildlife. 

Birdwatchers and nature photographers often seek out this elusive raptor, adding to the ecotourism appeal of the area

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