The migratory rough-legged hawk (Buteo lagopus) breeds in the Arctic tundra and taiga and winters in the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Each year Leonard and I await the arrival of the first rough-legged hawk of the season. For us, rough-legged hawks are a harbinger of the winter to come and they will be our avian companions through the cold, grey months.
Last year was the earliest that a rough-legged hawk appeared since I began keeping records of their return – October 30th. This year Leonard and I saw our first rough-legged hawk on November 9th. Since in three of the last six years November 9th was the first day we observed a rough-legged hawk, their return this year is not unusual.
The return dates for the last six years:
November 9th – 2007 December 4th – 2008 November 9th – 2009
December 15th – 2010 October 30th – 2011 November 9th – 2012.
This rough-legged hawk picture was taken in a hay field about a mile from our house on County Road 87 in Lookout CA. The “structure” in the background is a pivot irrigator.
As usual, I am happy to have the rough-legged hawks back from their summer in the Arctic.