Look at those gorgeous legs! The Rough-legged Hawks Buteo lagopus have feathers on their legs all the way to their toes to help them survive in cold climates.
They breed in the Arctic and Subarctic regions of North America and Eurasia but can spend their winters with us in Michigan. Their population fluctuates like the Snowy Owl depending on the population of the voles and lemmings, their main diet.
Rough-legged hawks breed once a year, usually between April and June, but breeding has also been reported as late as July. The pair is monogamous. Male and female rough-legged hawks build a nest together after they have found a suitable site on a rocky cliff. Males carry most of the building supplies while females construct the nest of twigs, grass, molted feathers, and fur from prey.
They average 2 to 7 eggs per clutch that take a minimum of 31 days to hatch. Fledging usually takes more than 40 days and the young may leave the parents 2 to 4 weeks later. Sexual maturity of males and females is reached at 2 to 3 years.
Rough-legged hawks can live up to 18 years in the wild. However, the average life span is about 2 years, largely because most young birds do not survive. Once they survive their fledging stage and first year, rough-legged hawk annual survival improves.