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GAP Analysis Predicted Distribution Map

Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis)

Species Code: BURE

This is an "at risk" species

Click to enlarge Range map

= Core Habitat
= Marginal Habitat

Breeding Range Map
The green area shows the predicted habitats for breeding only. The habitats were identified using 1991 satellite imagery, Breeding Bird Atlas (BBA), other datasets and experts throughout the state, as part of the Washington Gap Analysis Project. Habitats used during non-breeding months and migratory rest-stops were not mapped.

Metadata (Data about data or how the map was made)

Click to enlarge distribution map

Other maps & Information:
  • Breeding Bird Atlas
  • NatureMapping observations
    during breeding season
  • NatureMapping observations
    throughout the year

This species is uncommon, local, and declining in steppe vegetation of south-central Washington and east along the Snake River. Nests on cliffs, high bluffs, utility towers, trees, or on the ground.

Good habitat in the core areas of use included all steppe vegetation in the Central Arid Steppe, Big Sage/Fescue Wheatgrass/Fescue, Canyon Grassland, and Three-tip Sage zones, but limited to the southern and central Columbia Basin where breeding is known or likely.

This species is apparently declining throughout Washington. They have been reported as nesting as far north as Chelan, though recent records are limited to Kittitas, Yakima, Douglas, Grant, Benton, Klickitat, Lincoln, Adams, Franklin, Walla Walla, Whitman and Columbia Counties. Serious declines have occurred recently in Washington. For example, five pairs were seen in Yakima County in 1985, but these had been reduced to only one nesting pair by 1995. In fact, this species has also declined across North America in recent years, possibly a permanent trend due to increased human presence in its range, or possibly a temporary fluctuation in its relation to prey variability, or both. 72.8% of the nests surveyed for this Hawk were more than 1.25 miles from roads or areas with people, a testament to the need of disturbance-free areas for the conservation of this species. Temporal fluctuations in nest-site use and the decline of this species overall will affect the current distribution, which is probably smaller than that shown. Where it overlaps with the Swainson's Hawk, the Ferruginous Hawk generally nests on the ground or lower than the Swainson's, though Ferruginous Hawks are more likely to utilize utility towers where they are available. On the Hanford site, a population of seven to ten pairs nests on utility towers, foraging over steppe and irrigated agricultural areas. A 1990 study in Washington showed that 83% of the nests were located between 650 and 1000 feet elevation, with a maximum elevation of 1825 feet. This species is at the extreme edge of its range in Washington and may be susceptible to drought conditions, which can limit prey availability. For a recent study of the status of the Ferruginous Hawk in Washington go to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Translated from the Washington Gap Analysis Bird Volume by Uchenna Bright
Text edited by Gussie Litwer
Webpage designed by Dave Lester