Learn more about Broadwings

Iconic Pennsylvania Breeding Bird and Migrant

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About the Broad-winged Hawk
The broad-winged hawk is forest-nesting bird that is good at hiding, difficult to detect when nesting, but conspiculous during its migration. Some general notes on Pennsylvania's nesting broadwings:

  • Broadwings typically nest in vast tracts of undisturbed forest, so are found more so in northern and western Pennsylvania versus the more populated southeastern region.
  • The birds use both deciduous and mixed forests to build nests
  • Broadwings take advantage of the high prey available during spring and summer to feed  themselves as well as their young. 
  • Broadwings take amphibians, insects, and reptiles but small mammals are the most numerous prey.
  • Observations of a single nest at Hawk Mountain found more than half of all prey items were eastern chipmunks or northern short-tailed shrews.
  • Close proximity to water is a factor in nest-site selection. 
  • It's possible to hear an adult broadwing vocalize while circling above the forest over its territory, particularly during early and late nesting period. However, this species principally remains well concealed in the layers of the forest during incubation and nestling periods.  

Nesting Broadwings

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  • Broadwings build modest nests made of sticks often in the crotch of a tree or  close to the trunk.
  • Nest site selection and nest building may take three or more weeks.
  • Some broadwings may re-use squirrel nests or other large bird nests.
  • Nest construction may begin as early as mid-April.
  • The height of the nest in a tree ranges from 18 to 90 feet (5.5-27 meters) and in our region is typically found in an oak or pine tree.
  • Nests usually contain two and sometimes three eggs, but rarely four.
  • Adults can be seen carrying increased amounts of nesting material after hatching, primarily green sprigs of leaves.
  • Fledglings typically leave the nest in mid- to early-July but in rare instances, as late as early August.
  • Both parents contribute to raising young but the male typically provides the majority of food while the female principally incubates.

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Return to the Broad-winged Hawk Project overview page

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