Rough-legged Hawks spend summers in the northern reaches of Alaska, Canada, Scandinavia, Russia and other arctic and subarctic regions. In the winter, they migrate southward across the United States, northern Mexico, and central Europe and Asia.
Currently, they are widespread and common throughout their range.
Lemmings and voles make up the bulk of their diet, but they also hunt other small mammals and birds. They hunt during the day and sometimes at dusk and dawn, pursuing prey from a perched or hovering position.
Stick nests are built high on cliffs, rocky outcrops, riverbanks on a protected ledge with a good vantage, or, more rarely, trees. The female lays 2-7 white eggs with brown markings; the number of eggs depends on the availability of prey. The eggs are incubated for 28-31 days and the young fledge 5-6 weeks later. They reach adulthood in 2 years.