Rough-legged Hawk Buteo lagopus sanctijohannis.  

Jens-Kjeld Jensen, konservator/ taxidermist, Nólsoy.  

Rough-Legged Hawk.

On October 24, 2003 a fishing boat from Latvia approached the harbour in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands.

On board the boat there were 2 birds in captivity. The first was a Dark Phase Rough-legged Hawk, which had entered the boat Sep. 13 2003, as they were fishing in the position at app. 55o N – 48o W.  In the app. same position a Short-eared Owl had entered the boat Oct. 7.

Both birds are in care in Tórshavn.

The Rough-legged Hawk has the colour of uniform dark brown all over except on the tarsus, which is paler, as well at it has some white feathers in the forehead. The tail has lost app. 25% of its feathers, since the bird has been held in a cage. The weight of the bird is 1300g.  

In BW: Jensen, J-K. 2003. In Western Palearctic News, Dark morph Rough-legged Hawk Buteo lagopus sanctjohannis. Birding World, Vol. 16, no. 11. pp. 455-461.

(The first Rough-legged Hawk for the Faroe Islands – and the second for Europe – was observed a year earlier, see article below). 

Rough-legged Hawk in the Faroe Islands  

April 6th 2002 a woman named Rannvá Hansen phoned to me about a bird of prey, which she had caught and who was unable to fly. Also she told me, that she had never seen any birds of this kind before.

She spotted the bird near Kaldbak (5 km north of Tórshavn, Faroe Islands) because 5-6 Hooded Crows and several Ravens were dancing around it. 1 hour later I came to her house.

The bird was almost totally black with some unknown material that had resulted in that the feathers were totally glued together – the feathers were so hard, that it felt like touching a stone.

From the feathered tarsus I decided the bird to be a Rough-legged Buzzard. Rannvá then tried to wash the bird but did not succeed, since no soap could remove the “material” on the feathers, which again resulted in that the bird died 2 days later.

I sent some photos to The Danish Rarity Committee. In November 2002 they asked me to take a closer look at the bird, since they could not exclude, that the bird was an American Rough-legged Hawk Buteo lagopus sanctijohannis.

Since no soap seemed to remove the material on the feathers I then tried to wash the dead bird in so many things as chemical engine-cleaning preparation, petrol and gasoline, and finally it helped. The bird got clean and then it was easy to see, that it was a dark morphs Rough-legged Hawk.

This is the second sure discovery of Rough-legged Hawk in Europe. The date for this discovery fits very well with the date of the first observation from Iceland April 29th 1980 (see Birding World 15: 348).

My examination of the corpse showed, that it was an adult female (which had been breeding) and I took the following biometrics: weight 895g (not skinny) and the wing 338mm.

In BW: Jensen, J-K. 2003. A Rough-legged Hawk on the Faeroe Islands. Birding World, vol 16, no 1 pp. 20-21.  

Another article in BW: Jensen, J-K. 2002.  A Rough-legged Hawk of Greenland. Birding World, Vol. 15. no.8 pp. 348.

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