Why is it called a Ferruginous Hawk?

Answered by James Kissner

The Ferruginous Hawk gets its name from its distinctive rust-colored plumage. The word “ferruginous” is derived from the Latin word “ferrum,” which means iron. This name is a reference to the hawk’s reddish-brown back and legs, which resemble the color of rusted iron. The light-morph Ferruginous Hawks, which have this rusty coloration, are actually more common than the dark-morph birds.

The choice of this name is quite fitting, as it accurately describes one of the hawk’s most distinguishing features. The rust-colored plumage of the Ferruginous Hawk is unique among American hawks, and it sets them apart from other species in their family.

Naming birds after their physical characteristics is a common practice in the field of ornithology. It helps scientists and bird enthusiasts easily identify and differentiate between various species. The name “Ferruginous Hawk” not only describes the hawk’s appearance but also serves as a useful tool for bird watchers and researchers.

It is worth noting that the scientific name of the Ferruginous Hawk is Buteo regalis. The genus name, Buteo, refers to the hawk’s broad wings and short, wide tails, which are characteristic of most hawks in this group. The species name, regalis, means royal, which highlights the majestic and regal nature of these birds.

While the name “Ferruginous Hawk” may not hold any deep cultural or historical significance, it serves as a practical and descriptive label for this particular species. The rusty coloration of the hawk’s back and legs is a prominent feature that helps distinguish it from other hawks in North America.

In my personal experiences observing Ferruginous Hawks, their rusty plumage has always fascinated me. It adds a unique and beautiful touch to their overall appearance. I have often marveled at their regal presence and the way their colors blend with their natural surroundings. Seeing a Ferruginous Hawk soaring through the sky with its feathered legs on full display is truly a remarkable sight.

The Ferruginous Hawk is called as such due to its rust-colored plumage. The name accurately describes the hawk’s reddish-brown back and legs, which resemble the color of rusted iron. This descriptive name helps identify and differentiate this species from other American hawks.