Name: Joyce H.
Are Chicken Hawks a protected species?
When I was growing up on a farm all large hawks were called chicken hawks. You will find no
such bird anywhere in birding or scientific literature. Depending on where you are, locals
may call red-tails, rough-legs, red-shouldered, Swainson's, ferruginous, broad-wing, or
several other species "chicken hawks," with red-tails the most likely referred to because
of their wide range and open country hunting behavior. But in answer to your important
question, YES, all raptors are protected in the United States.
When I was a graduate student in an Illinois university, I was asked to give a presentation on
hawks to a local group of farmer and various merchant interests. After going through the types
of hawks that were commonly seen in that part of the country, I was asked about the
"chicken" hawk. I asked if it looked like any of the birds I had displayed in my
presentation and the interested individuals claimed that the birds I had presented
did not resemble the "chicken Hawk" they were referring.
Of course, I asked them to describe the "hawk" and they described a large, uniformly dark
colored bird with spots under its wing. I learned that this "chicken Hawk" took chickens,
ducks, rabbits and attempted piglets and cats. They identified the bird when I showed a slide of an
immature Golden Eagle. They too want to know if this "chicken hawk" was protected. Of course, the Golden Eagle
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Update: June 2012