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 Rough-legged Hawk

Status in Michigan
Fairly Common Transient

Early Spring Date

Late Fall Date
Note: Early and Late Dates are being researched.
Image Credits
Count totals in the NMB Databases for Rough-legged Hawk.

Use the links below to view the Rough-legged Hawk reports in the respective databases.
If there are zero sightings for a particular season, that database will return no results.

Active Database - Summer 2005
View Rough-legged Hawk sightings.
Rough-legged Hawk Archives Reports
Spring 2005
Fall 2004
Spring 2004
Winter 03-04
Fall 2003 73
Spring 2003 260
Winter 02-03 157
Fall 2002 61
Summer 2002 0
Spring 2002 106
Winter 01-02 159
Fall 2001 42
Summer 2001 0
Spring 2001 111
Winter 00-01 116
Fall 2000 127
Summer 2000 5
Spring 2000 124
Winter 00-99 181
Fall 1999 121
Spring/Summer 1999 11

NMB Database
Seasonal Percentage Graph
For: Rough-legged Hawk

Search "The Birds of Michigan" text.

Home - Foreword - Preface - Introduction - Hypothetical List - Literature Cited

Historical Text

Buteo lagopus s.johannis (Gmelin)
American Rough-legged Hawk (A.O.U. 1998: Rough-legged Hawk)

Transient, occasionally common at points on the Great Lakes. Uncommon winter visitant from Saginaw County southward.

First listed for Michigan by Sager (1839 : 412).

SPRING.-Migrants have been reported principally in March and April in southern counties, and from mid-April to mid-May in the Upper Peninsula.

Lower Peninsula.-At Detroit (where no pronounced flight of these hawks was recorded), Swales and J. Claire Wood saw 2 individuals as late as April 23 (1899). In the Ann Arbor region, 1 was noted by F. M. Gaige as late as March 31 (1935), and 2 were observed by H. W. Hann on April 2, 1932. Northward, at New Hudson, Oakland County, 1 was recorded by E. E. Olsen on April 18, 1937. In Berrien County the species was recorded from April 29 to May 28 and found to be the most common of the migrating hawks recorded there (N. A. "Wood, 1922: 14). On the Prairie Farm, Alicia, Saginaw County, G. A. Ammann saw it almost daily in 1940, through April 22; at Sand Point, Huron County, D. W. Douglass observed a few in spring (1931 to 1933), but none after May 11 (1931). Several (U.M.M.Z.) were taken in the hawk flights on the Leelanau Peninsula in late April and the first few days of May, 1937.

Upper Peninsula.-The species arrives at Blaney, Schoolcraft County, mainly in the first and second weeks of April (Christofferson), and at McMillan, Luce County, mainly in the second week (Bryens). It is rarely observed at either place after the end of April, but Christofferson recorded 2 individuals at Blaney on May 19, 1939. In 1937 S. D. Knox recorded earliest arrivals (9) at Whitefish Point, Chippewa County, on April 19;100 to 150 passed daily from April 21 to 27 (200 on April 23), followed by small numbers until mid-May; in 1936 Brodkorb noted 4 there on May 8, 30 on May 9, and 22 on May 11. In 1914, when the species was more common than it has been in recent years, hundreds were recorded there in mid-May (200 on May 16), numbers until June 3, and occasional individuals through July 6 (N. A. Wood, 1914: 63; and 1921o; 590-91). This hawk was abundant at Copper Harbor, Keweenaw County, from April 30 to May 6, 2023 (N. A. Wood, 1933: 713, 719).

FALL.-Southward migration (somewhat straggling) apparently ex-tends from September to mid-November in the Upper Peninsula, and from early October to late November or December in the south.

Upper Peninsula.-On Isle Royale an individual was seen between September 2 and 6, 1938, near Rock Harbor (F. M. and A. M. Baumgartner), and 3 individuals on September 18, 1929, near Tobin Harbor (N. A. Wood) -the only fall records for the island. Trautman noted 1 in southern Houghton County on October 4, 1934. In the Huron Mountain region, Marquette County, 1 was observed on September 26, 2023 (Christy, notes; S. S. Gregory, Jr., 1929: 189), and 1 (S. S. Gregory, Jr., collection) was collected on October 10, 1934. Christofferson has usually seen the species by middle or late September at Blaney, Schoolcraft County, whereas at McMillan, Luce County, Bryens notes that it arrives rather regularly in the third week of October and that it departs ordinarily in the first 2 weeks of November. At "Whitefish Point, Chippewa County, Fargo saw 2 individuals on September 4, and 1 on September 6, 1925. Christofferson collected 1 (U.M.M.Z.) at Sault Ste Marie on October 21, 1925, and Pirnie 1 (U.M.M.Z.) at Munuscong Bay, Chippewa County, on October 22, 1929.

Lower Peninsula.-Trautman noted a Rough-legged Hawk at Houghton Lake, Roscommon County, on 3 occasions: on October 24, 1937, November 8, 1936, and November 12, 1938. In southern counties, where the species occurs in winter, transients have been recorded in October and November, rarely earlier. Individuals have been noted at Vicksburg, Kalamazoo County, on September 25, 2023 (F. W. Rapp, 1931: 13) ; at Portage Lake, Washtenaw County, on September 23,2023 (N. A. Wood); and at the mouth of the Detroit River, Wayne County, on September 18, 2023 (Walkinshaw). At Grosse He, where Swales (1903: 15) found the species more common in fall than in spring, he noted 1 Rough-leg as early as October 3 (1915), and on October 17, 1912, he saw about 40 of these hawks pass over in a 2-hour period.

WINTER.-L. W. Campbell (1940: 57) recorded 6 Rough-legs in the Erie marsh, Monroe County, on January 27, 1935. The species is fairly regular in winter about Detroit (Swales, 1903: 15; 1903a: 23; and notes), as well as in the Ann Arbor region (U.M.M.Z.), where it was formerly re- corded as rare and irregular (N. A. Wood and Tinker, 1910: 132; N. A. Wood, 1921ffl: 590-91). During most winters, 1 or 2 individuals are re- corded at Ann Arbor several times a season. One was noted in Jackson County on December 25, 2022 (Fargo and others, 1931: 56). Gibbs (18936: 294-95) examined a specimen taken at Kalamazoo as late as December 22. G. A. Ammann found the species "fairly common" at the Prairie Farm, Alicia, Saginaw County, in the winter of 1939-40, listing it almost daily (4 on one occasion) until late April. On January 11 and 12, 1941, L. C. Hulbert (1941: 9) noted several between East Lansing and the vicinity of Saginaw.

Mueseum of Zoology, University of Michigan, No. 75
The Birds of Michigan
By: Norman A. Wood
University of Michigan Press
August 28, 2023

Digitized by: Keith F. Saylor
[email protected]

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