Black-collared Hawk

Busarellus nigricollis
Population status:
Least Concern
Body length:
45·5–58 cm (18-22.8 in)
115–143 cm (45-56 in)
391–1070 g (13.7-37.7 oz)
Black-collared Hawk

Fernando Angulo/CORBIDI

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Did You Know?

  • The Black-collared Hawk is a fishing specialist. However, unlike the Osprey, it does not have waterproof plumage.  
  • The Black-collared Hawk is equipped with conical-shaped spikes on the undersides of its toes to help it capture and hold on to fish.
  • Researchers have documented a vampire bat feeding on a Black-collared Hawk nestling.  Peregrine Fund biologists also observed a vampire bat feeding on an adult, incubating Orange-breasted Falcons in Belize. In both cases, the incidents were captured by nest cameras!

Other Hawks

How The Peregrine Fund is Helping

Though The Peregrine Fund doesn't work directly with Black-collared Hawks, our efforts in scientific research, habitat conservation, education, and community development help conserve birds of prey around the world. We also supply literature to researchers from our avian research library, which helps scientists around the world gather and share important information on raptor conservation.

Where They Live

The Black-collared Hawk is found throughout much of the Americas - in particular from southern Central America to the northern tip of Argentina in South America. 

Like the Osprey, the Black-collared Hawk is never found too far from water. It lives in lowland habitats, usually between 500 and 1,500 meters above sea level. It frequents areas of fresh or brackish still or slow-moving water, including mangroves, marshes, lagoons, riverine forests, ox-bows, swamp forests, flooded fields, and landlocked ponds in mostly open country. In fact, its distribution closely coincides with the presence of these watered habitats. This means, if you were to look at a map of the Black-collared Hawk's range, you would likely find records of these large raptors in the same places you would find all these bodies of water!

What They Do

The Black-collared Hawk is named for the wide, dark "collar" at the base of its throat. It has a streaked, off-white head, and beautiful rusty-chestnut feathers speckled with black on much of its body.  It has dark eyes and a dark beak and its lower legs are featherless and pale gray.

Like many birds of prey, the Black-collared Hawk loves to soar. It can often be seen sailing up and up on its wide wings - often reaching great heights. If you are ever lucky enough to stumble across a Black-collared Hawk, chances are you will see a single bird, or a pair of birds. The Black-collared Hawk rarely hangs out in large groups, though you might be lucky enough to see an adult pair with its young prior to the young's dispersal.

Why They Need our Help

Though the Black-collared Hawk's population is in decline, it is still categorized a species of Least Concern by the IUCN. This means that scientists believe this species will continue to do well into the foreseeable future, or that not enough information exists about its population numbers to get a clear idea of its true status. Either way, like most species, this hawk is vulnerable to a number of threats. Because it is a denizen of water-graced landscapes, and because it relies on fish and other water-going critters for food, if these areas become degraded, deforested or dry up, the Black-collared Hawk would no longer be able to survive there. 

Nests, Eggs, and Young

Researchers have been lucky enough to observe the courtship behavior of the Black-collared Hawk, which often involves the male and female flying together high up in the sky, while dipping and diving and vocalizing.

The Black-collared Hawk builds a large platform nest or cup nest made of sticks and branches. It is usually placed in the upper portions of a high tree, or in mangroves. The female will lay between 1 and 2 eggs, which are whitish to greenish-white, and marked with brown, or reddish mottling. According to researchers, both the male and female share incubation duties, though the female likely does a bit more of it than the male. 

After the young hatches, the adults will eat the egg shells. A newly hatched Black-collared Hawk nestling quite small and could fit perfectly into the palm of a person’s hand. As the chick grows, it needs to eat a lot and often. When the chick is very young, the mother will tear off small pieces of meat for the chick and delicately feed it with her bill. Later, as the chick grows, it will be able to tear off and eat the meat on its own. 

As you can imagine, the nest of a bird of prey can get pretty messy! Between the nestlings droppings and left over food, things could get pretty stinky. However, the Black-collared Hawk does make an effort to keep its nest as clean as possible. Researchers have documented the adults cleaning the nests by removing old prey items. They also bring fresh, leafy branches to the nest even after the young has hatched. 

Based on just a few observations, it appears that the nestling fledges approximately 55 days after hatching. The fledging process, of course, happens over time. Before the nestling is ready to fly, it will spend several days flapping its wings, walking along the branches of its nest tree, and testing its skills with short hops. 

After fledging, young bird will stay in its parents' territory for at least 2 months before dispersing.

What They Eat

The Black-collared Hawk feeds on a plethora of different prey from fishes to frogs, from small birds to mammals, including rodents, as well as aquatic insects, crustacea, mollusks, snakes and even nestling birds. When hunting it will often find a high perch overlooking the water, often along the shoreline. When it spots something delicious to eat it will swoop down to the surface of the water to grab its prey. Once it has caught its dinner in its sharp talons, it will return to a perch to feed. 

Black-collared Hawk and the World Center for Birds of Prey

The World Center for Birds of Prey offers fun ways to learn about birds of prey. Interactive activities, tours, interesting videos and a children's room with activities from coloring sheets to quizzes to costumes are all available for our guests. We also have knowledgeable, on-site staff to answer any questions you may have about the Black-collared Hawk or any other bird of prey.


Bierregaard, R. O., G. M. Kirwan, and P. F. D. Boesman (2020). Black-collared Hawk (Busarellus nigricollis), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal, D. A. Christie, and E. de Juana, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.

BirdLife International 2016. Busarellus nigricollis The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22695842A93529977.

Black-collared Hawk (Busarellus nigricollis), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online:

Global Raptor Information Network. 2020. Species account: Black-collared Hawk Busarellus nigricollis. Downloaded from on 14 Mar. 2020

Hawk, B.C., A nest of Black-collared Hawk Busarellus nigricollis at Serra do Amolar, Pantanal, Brazil. Aquat. Sci68, pp.278-309.

Ingels, J., Chassagneux, A., Pelletier, V. and Rufray, V., 2016. Black-collared Hawk Busarellus nigricollis in French Guiana: distribution, population size and breeding biology. Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia24(4), pp.293-299.