Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
The ferruginous hawk is a large, high-soaring hawk that is found in open mixed-grass prairie. Historically, it was abundant and widely distributed in North Dakota in the early 1 900's, but destruction of native prairie tracts through agricultural development has caused the ferruginous hawk to decline in number and restrict their range to very limited areas. Presently, the ferruginous hawk is most commonly seen on the Missouri Coteau and in western North Dakota.
In flight, the hawk's reddish-brown legs show as a dark "V" against the hawk's white underparts and is a key characteristic to identifying this hawk in flight. It is one of the largest and most powerful of all hawks with a wingspan greater than 4 feet. The ferruginous hawk's main prey is small and medium-sized mammals, in particular ground squirrels and prairie dogs.
The breeding season runs from April to mid-July and it can be seen in North Dakota from April until late September. It prefers to build it's nest among trees when they are available, but it often builds among boulders on a hillside or on a rocky outcrop among cliffs. The female lays 3 or 4 eggs and incubation takes about 28 days. Once hatched, the young can take flight at about two months of age.