Family Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)

Near Threatened

Rufous Crab-hawk (Buteogallus aequinoctialis)


French: Buse buson German: Rotbauchbussard Spanish: Busardo cangrejero

Falco aequinoctialis

J. F. Gmelin

, 1788,



Often associated with B. anthracinus and B. gundlachii species pair, a relationship supported by results of recent wide-ranging molecular study of the buteonine hawks#R. Monotypic.


Trinidad; Caño Ajíes and Orinoco Delta in E Venezuela E along coast to SE Brazil (Paraná).

Descriptive notes

42–47 cm; male 506–665 g, female 725–945 g; wingspan 90–106 cm. Largish but short-winged and short-tailed buteonine. Head, throat and hindneck sooty-... read more


Gives a loud rather shrill whistle or laugh comprising 5–7 notes “ke-kee-kee-kee-kew-... read more


Coastal lowland swamps, mangroves, wet savannas and river edges; predominantly in mangroves and... read more

Food and feeding

Mostly, or exclusively, crabs, e.g. Ulcides cordatus and Callinectes bocourti in Surinam. Crabs caught after short dive... read more


In Surinam, nests in rainy season (Feb–Aug); in SE Brazil probably Sept onwards. Twig nest, lined with leaves, usually in mangrove or... read more


Sedentary; usually seen in pairs. Perhaps only a visitor to Trinidad.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Currently considered Near Threatened. CITES II. Commonest raptor (within its range) in mangroves of South America. Unknown whether only a... read more

Recommended citation

Bierregaard, R.O., Jr, Kirwan, G.M., Boesman, P. & Sharpe, C.J. (2020). Rufous Crab-hawk (Buteogallus aequinoctialis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 24 February 2020).