Traditional subspecies classifications may suggest phylogenetic relationships that are discordant with evolutionary history and mislead evolutionary inference. To more accurately describe evolutionary relationships and inform conservation efforts, we investigated the genetic relationships and demographic histories of Buteo lineatus subspecies in eastern and western North America using 21 nuclear microsatellite loci and 375-base pairs of mitochondrial control region sequence. Frequency based analyses of mitochondrial sequence data support significant population distinction between eastern (B. l. lineatus/alleni/texanus) and western (B. l. elegans) subspecies of B. lineatus. This distinction was further supported by frequency and Bayesian analyses of the microsatellite data. We found evidence of differing demographic histories between regions; among eastern sites, mitochondrial data suggested that rapid population expansion occurred following the end of the last glacial maximum, with B. l. texanus population expansion preceding that of B. l. lineatus/alleni. No evidence of post-glacial population expansion was detected among western samples (B. l. elegans). Rather, microsatellite data suggest that the western population has experienced a recent bottleneck, presumably associated with extensive anthropogenic habitat loss during the 19th and 20th centuries. Our data indicate that eastern and western populations of B. lineatus are genetically distinct lineages, have experienced very different demographic histories, and suggest management as separate conservation units may be warranted. ?? 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.