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These small birds are around the same height and length as an American robin but are much bulkier and have a bigger wingspan. They’re sandy colored with mottled brown and white spots on their back and a pale underside with brown bars on the chest. They have relatively long legs, a short tail, and vibrant yellow eyes.
They make their home in flat open habitats such as prairies, grasslands, desert, and sagebrush steppe. Their range extends from southern South America up to Florida and the southwestern US—and, during the breeding season, north into western states and Canada. They mainly hunt insects and rodents but also eat small birds, reptiles, and amphibians.