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The Ferruginous Hawk (ferruginous = from Latin ferrum - iron, ferrgin-, iron rust, iron-rust color - reddish-brown), Buteo regalis (Latin, royal hawk), is a large bird of prey. It is not a true hawk like sparrow hawks or goshawks, but rather belongs to the broad-tailed buteo hawks, known as "buzzards" in Europe.
This is the largest of the buteos and is often mistaken for an eagle due to its size, proportions and behavior. As with all birds of prey, the female is larger than the male, but there is some overlap between small females and large males in the range of measurements. Length ranges from 20 to 26 inches (51 to 66 cm) with an average of 23 inches (58 cm), wingspan from 48 to 60 inches (122 to 152 cm) with an average of 56 inches (142 cm), and weight from 2.2 to 4.5 pounds (998 to 2,041 g).
Adults have long broad wings and a broad grey, rusty or white tail. The legs are feathered to the talons, like the Rough-legged Hawk. There are two color forms:
Light morph birds are rusty brown on the upper parts and pale on the head, neck and under parts with rust on the legs and some rust marking on the under wing. The upper wings are grey. The "Ferruginous" name refers to the rusty color of the light morph birds.
Dark morph birds are dark brown on both upperparts and under parts with light areas on the upper and lower wings.