Raptor Population Index

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Species Assessment:
Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus)

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The 10-year migration count trends for the Rough-legged Hawk suggest a mix of stable and declining counts across North America with 57% of 21 total sites showing statistically significant stable counts during this span. There have also been decreasing observations at 43% of the sites and no sites have reported an increase. Regionally, observations are a mix of stable and declining reports with 50% of count sites in the East Region showing declines and 50% of sites in the Central Region decreasing. The West Region shows stable trends at the five sites analyzed (see pie charts and trend maps below). The 20-year count trends also reflect a mix of stable and declining counts. The East Region contains the majority of decreasing counts for the twenty-year period, while the West Region showed stable counts Photo by Ilyah Sukhov (Central Region: 1 decrease, 1 stable; East Region: 8 decrease; West Region: 2 stable). The two sites recording the highest counts of migrating Rough- legged Hawks in the past decade, Hawk Ridge, Minnesota and Whitefish Point, Michigan counted on average 551 and 345 per year. Hawk Ridge counts show a 7.32% decline per year for the recent decade whereas Whitefish Point counts are stable. Derby Hill, New York, averaging 164 roughlegs per year also shows a steep decline of 9.7% per year for the recent decade.

Winter survey data from the Christmas Bird Count (CBC) show stable 10-year trends continent-wide with decreases in winter populations in northeastern provinces and states and increases in northwestern states. Short-stopping during winter may be influencing some of the decreases observed in migration and winter, but other factors also may be affecting this species. The Rough- legged Hawk is listed as a species of least concern globally by the IUCN Red List. However, nesting birds are increasingly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change on the Arctic ecosystems. The species also is vulnerable to habitat loss, shooting, collision, and electrocution during the non- breeding season.

Rough-legged Hawk<br>Photo by Ilyah Sukhov

Photo by Ilyah Sukhov

Please cite this page as:
    D. Oleyar, D. Ethier, L. Goodrich, D. Brandes, R. Smith, J. Brown, and J. Sodergren. 2021. The Raptor Population Index: 2019 Analyses and Assessments.