The great black hawk Buteogallus urubitinga is a bird of prey in the family Accipitridae , which also includes the eagles , hawks , and Old World vultures. The great black hawk is a resident breeding bird in the tropical New World , from Mexico through Central America to Peru , Tobago and northern Argentina. It resembles the common black hawk , but is larger with a different call and tail pattern. This is a mainly coastal bird of forest and open woodland near water.
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Solitary eagle , Buteogallus solitarius The solitary eagles formerly Harpyhaliaetus are a more inland relative of the "black" group of Buteogallus — in phenotype they are essentially hefty common black-hawks with lighter body plumage and in one species a small crest. Insofar as there are differences in anatomy , these seem to be related to the different prey they hunt namely reptiles. Together with the savanna hawk , they seem to be close to some species that were uncomfortably placed in Leucopternis.
As that genus was apparently polyphyletic , the present article follows a proposal to unite the solitary eagles as well as the slate-colored hawk "Leucopternis" schistaceus with Buteogallus, to agree with the morphological and mtDNA sequence data. Together with the crab hawks and solitary eagles form a sequence of plumage patterns that nicely agrees with the DNA-based phylogeny: the slate-colored hawk looks very much like a smaller, shorter-legged and lighter common black hawk.
The case of the white-necked hawk is more puzzling. It is visually and ecologically almost identical to the sympatric mantled hawk Leucopternis polionotus and some allopatric white hawks L. According to the mtDNA data, it is very closely related to the savanna hawk, which is visually dissimilar, appearing like a very light Buteogallus which has an ochre-grey coloration due to abundant pheomelanins.
Either there has been strong convergent evolution in plumage and ecology - perhaps a case of mimicry - between the white-necked and the mantled hawks, or the mtDNA data is misleading due to ancient hybrid introgression. In the respect, the white-necked hawk specimen sampled showed indications of heteroplasmy. The genus — like many buteonines of today — probably succeeded earlier birds of prey during the Miocene and never seems to have occurred outside the Americas. From the time of the last ice age , an array of prehistoric species is known, some of them very large.
On Cuba , a particularly gigantic species survived deep into the last ice age, but probably not until human settlement.
Great black hawk
Great Black Hawk (Buteogallus urubitinga)