Galapagos Species Database

The Galapagos Species Database shares the information about the species from our Natural History Collections.

Buteo galapagoensis (Gould, 1837)

Gavilán de Galápagos, Galapagos Hawk

Juvenile Galapagos Hawk. Photo: Michael Dvorak, CDF.
Juvenile Galapagos Hawk. Photo: Michael Dvorak, CDF.

Length 56 cm, wingspan 120 cm. The only large and dark, broad winged bird likely to be seen sitting in a tree or circling high in the sky. Adult almost is black except for some chestnut on under parts and a grey or brown tail crossed by about nine darker bands. Immature has body buff colored, mottled with dark brown. Recently fledged juveniles have breast and belly bright chestnut. Bill dark with yellow cere or fleshy base, and feet are yellow. Female is larger than male (Harris 1974; Castro & Phillips 1996).

Threats Dependant on food availability. May be affected by the toxins used for the control of feral mammals, particularly rats.










Taxon category: Accepted

Syn.: Polyborus galapagoensis Gould, 1837; Craxirex galapagoensis Gould, 1837; Buteo galapagensis Sundevall, 1871; Buteo galapagoensis Ridgway, 1890

Taxon origin: Endemic




Preference for an altitude zone in Galapagos: Coastal zone - high altitude dry zone

Feeding type: Feeds on number of birds, small mammals, and lizards. It is the only serious predator of marine iguanas who react actively to hawks flying over the colonies. Goats used to provide a good food source both through natural death and in the hunting seasons, this resource is much depleted. The consequences are unknown

Trophic role: Carnivorous

Reproductive biology: On Isabela, Marchena and Pinta, Galapagos Hawks are 100 % polyandrous, one female mating with 2-8 males that form a group defending a territory year round. All the males contribute cooperatively to the care of the brood. Outside the breeding territories, non breeding females and immature males, form a floating population. On Santiago and Santa Fé, only a proportion exhibit polyandry, on Espanola the population is monogamous. Each male in a polyandrous group has fewer offspring than monogamous males, but they have a higher survival rate.


Distribution: Present on almost all islands, with exception of Genovesa, Wolf, Darwin. Extinct on Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Floreana, Baltra. Genetic information shows no gene flow between island populations, and hence a relative isolation of sub-populations. The species could be in the first stages of diversi


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This page should be cited as follows:
"Galapagos Species Database, Buteo galapagoensis", dataZone. Charles Darwin Foundation, Accessed 21 July 2024.