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Gray Hawk

Buteo plagiatus


The gray hawk is generally gray in color, with dark bars on the chest. It has a long tail with horizontal stripes, and white wing undersides with darker leading edges, as pictured.


This bird was spotted in Miller Canyon in the Huachuca Mountains west of Sierra Vista, AZ. This is rugged undeveloped terrain. The canyon has a year-round creek, and is wooded with sycamore, cottonwood, oak, maple and pine, and is a part of the Coronado National Forest. This is one of the sky islands in the southwest, which support a large diversity of wildlife above the surrounding desert floor. The hawk has a nest in a sycamore tree, as pictured in the 4th photo above, at about the 5,500’ altitude.


This was a unique spotting, as the gray hawk is found in just a two isolated areas in the US…extreme southeastern Arizona, and in Texas in the Big Bend Rio Grande River area. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the gray hawk only migrates north into the US during breeding season in the summer, so chances of spotting them in the US are few. The main food source for gray hawks is the whiptail lizard, and in this area they are plentiful. At the time we first spotted this hawk, it was perched in a tree looking for prey, 2nd photo above. According to the ‘locals’ at a nearby ranch, this hawk and mate raised one chick earlier this spring, which has since left the nest.

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Jim Nelson
Jim Nelson 4 years ago

Thanks Robert...appreciate the comment!

triggsturner 4 years ago

Great images Jim. Been away and trying to catch up. Congrats on the SOTD too.

Jim Nelson
Jim Nelson 4 years ago

Thanks, Felix...belated but always good to hear from you.

Felix Fleck
Felix Fleck 4 years ago

Awesome shots, Jim! Belated congrats.

Jim Nelson
Jim Nelson 4 years ago

Daniele, thanks for the SOTD...and to all who commented!

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 4 years ago

Stunning first shot Jim. Congrats.

DanielePralong 4 years ago

Congratulations Jim, this unique sighting with fantastic images and great notes is our Spotting of the Day!



Love your pictures!

Zlatan Celebic
Zlatan Celebic 4 years ago

wow! great series and a magnificent lead photo, so sharp. and very informative, thanks Jim.

SarahWhitt 4 years ago


Jim Nelson
Jim Nelson 4 years ago

Thanks Antonio and Tomato.

tomato.glasgow 4 years ago

awesome photo

Wow jim,just awesome,great series,first shot is perfect,congrats and thanks for sharing

Jim Nelson
Jim Nelson 4 years ago

Thanks, Ava!

Ava T-B
Ava T-B 4 years ago


Jim Nelson
Spotted by
Jim Nelson

Arizona, USA

Spotted on Jun 15, 2017
Submitted on Jun 26, 2017

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