Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus)

Rough-legged Hawk


This Rough-legged Hawk was originally an Educational Ambassador for the Laramie Raptor Refuge.  He was admitted in 2002 as a first year bird with severe head trauma probably due to being hit by car.  This left him with a right eye vision deficit and some signs of brain trauma.  His injuries prevent him from surviving in the wild.  He was transferred to the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program in 2010 when the Laramie Raptor Refuge closed.


“Rough-legged” refers to the hawk’s legs, which are completely feathered down to the tops of their toes.  Lagopus is from Greek, lagos meaning “hare” and pous meaning “foot,” describing the similarity between the rough-legged hawk’s heavily feathered legs and the snowshoe hare’s heavily furred feet.   This buteo species is circumpolar and ranges throughout northern Canada, Alaska, Greenland, Europe, and Asia. This species breeds in the northern areas of its range. In winter this species moves to lower latitudes with Southern Colorado being about as south as you will find them.

If you would like to support this bird, please visit our Adopt-a-Raptor page or our Donation page.

Photo by Dominique Thigpen