In July 2017, Schlitz Audubon welcomed Krona, a female Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus) into our Raptor Program! Her presence is especially exciting as Krona is the first Rough-legged Hawk to be a part of our Raptor Program.
These hawks are known as rough-legged because they have feathers all the way down to their feet, which keeps them warm in their arctic habitat. Below their feathered legs are relatively small feet, which allow them to perch on the skinny top branches of tall trees.
This species spends its summer breeding season in the Arctic. In winter, they will migrate south to most of the United States, so for several months during winter they can be seen in the wild throughout Wisconsin. These hawks are known to perch when looking for food, but will also hover in place while facing the wind and surveying the ground for small mammals (a technique also employed by kestrels).
Krona comes to Schlitz Audubon from another nature center, where she had been an educational bird. Her name translates to “Crown” in Icelandic. At less than one year of age, Krona was struck by a car and due to wing damage is unable to survive in the wild.
Krona will greet visitors at the Center’s Raptor Exhibit, sharing duties with Sky Walker, our Red-tailed Hawk. Perching inside the exhibit and taking in her surroundings encourages the natural behaviors of her species. We are delighted to have Krona aid in teaching about migration, ecosystem health, and the effects of climate change.
Rough-legged Hawk Facts
- They are one of only three North American raptor species with fully feathered legs, including the Golden Eagle and the Ferruginous Hawk. Their Latin name, Buteo lagopus, translates to “hare’s foot,” referencing their feathered legs.
- They are active during daylight hours, especially during dawn and dusk.
- Rough-legged Hawks sometimes use caribou bones as nesting material.
For more information about Rough-legged Hawks, visit The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.