|Conservation status||Most of North American breeding range is remote from effects of human disturbance.|
|Habitat||Open conifer forests, birch scrub, tamarack bogs, muskeg. Found in northern forest of spruce and other conifers mixed with aspen or birch, north to treeline. Generally in semi-open sites, as around edges of clearings, bogs, burned areas.|
Hunts mostly by day, or at dawn and dusk. Watches for prey from a prominent raised perch, often moving from one hunting perch to another; when prey is spotted, attacks in very fast flight. May hover while hunting. Sometimes catches birds in the air. May sometimes locate prey by sound alone, plunging into snow to catch unseen rodents.
5-7, sometimes 4-9, rarely 3-13. May lay more eggs in years when rodents are abundant. Eggs white. Incubation is by female only, 25-30 days. Young: Female stays with young most of time for about first 2 weeks; male brings food for them. Later, both parents bring food. Young climb around in nest tree before capable of flight, may be able to fly at about 5-6 weeks. Young may remain with parents for several months after fledging.
Female stays with young most of time for about first 2 weeks; male brings food for them. Later, both parents bring food. Young climb around in nest tree before capable of flight, may be able to fly at about 5-6 weeks. Young may remain with parents for several months after fledging.
Mostly rodents. Especially in summer, eats mostly voles, mice; also some small squirrels, weasels, shrews. Also eats small birds, especially in winter. May take insects, frogs, even small fish at times.
Members of mated pair call in duet, sometimes bow stiffly. Male feeds female, and may store uneaten prey near nest. Nest site varies, includes large cavities in trees, broken-off tops of snags, or old nests of other birds, such as crows or hawks. In northern Europe, may use artificial nest boxes. Usually 10-40' above ground.
Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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No regular migration, but somewhat nomadic, moving around to track available prey. A few may move well southward in winter.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
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Songs and CallsWhistling ki-ki-ki-ki-ki-ki, similar to call of a kestrel.
Learn more about this sound collection.