Sage was relocated to Snowden Wildlife Refuge in McCall, Idaho, in December of 2004, where he will enjoy a much larger enclosure. Sage is a Ferruginous Hawk of unknown sex and age who came to us in February of 2003 from Ephrata, Washington, with a right wing fracture, and his wing had to be amputated. This fracture was caused by a gunshot wound, as bullet fragments were seen on the radiograph. Sage is at least 2 years old and is rather small for his species, so we consider him to be male. Ferruginous Hawks are listed as threatened in the state of Washington. We wish him luck at his new home!
Ferruginous Hawks are given their name due to the rusty coloring of the feathers that extend from their legs down to their talons, that when in flight appear in a “V” shape. These hawks are the largest and heaviest buteo in the United States. In fact, some female ferruginous hawks get close to the size of eagles. Due to the shape of their heads and their wide sear, many people argue these hawks should actually be considered a member of the eagle family. These hawks have almost completely white chests and underneath their wings, their backs are a mixture of grey, white, brown, and red. There are also other color variations, from almost completely white to almost completely reddish brown.
Like other buteos, these hawks can be seen soaring over open fields or tundra or from tall perches like telephone poles or snags. Before swooping down on their prey these hawks are known to kite. These hawks prefer open plains and prairies, where they search primarily for prairie dogs. They will also take other ground-dwelling animals, such as ground squirrels, rabbits, snakes, and mice. These hawks are extremely uncommon due to the destruction of their natural habitat for urban development. Because of this, there are only a few breeding pairs left in Washington and they are in serious jeopardy of being put on the endangered species list in this state. They can also be found in Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, and Wyoming, and summer in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and parts of Mexico.