Web Analytics

Red-tailed Hawks, Buteo jamaicensis

Red-tailed hawks with prey

Red-tailed Hawks are found in a wide range of habitats throughout North America, from Alaska and Canada down to Mexico and parts of Central America. They can be found in a variety of habitats, including forests, grasslands, deserts, agricultural areas, and urban environments.

Red-tailed Hawks have broad wings, distinctive red tail feathers, and a rough-textured belly band. Their eyes are reddish-brown.

They are known for their impressive soaring abilities, often using thermal updrafts to gain altitude and cover large distances with minimal effort. They emit a distinct, high-pitched scream-like call.

Red-tailed Hawks are large birds of prey and opportunistic hunters. They primarily feed on small to medium-sized mammals. Their diet includes rodents like mice and voles, rabbits, squirrels, groundhogs, and occasionally reptiles, birds, and amphibians. They hunt by soaring and circling high in the sky, scanning the ground for prey. When they spot potential targets, they dive down with great speed and precision to capture their prey using their sharp talons. They also hunt from perches in trees and utility poles.

Red-tailed Hawks build large nests made of sticks and branches, lined with softer materials such as leaves or grass. The nests are typically located in tall trees, often near the trunk and close to the main branches. They may also use artificial structures such as tall buildings, cliffs, or rock ledges for nesting. Sometimes they will nest on high-mounted platforms. Red-tailed Hawks tend to reuse and refurbish their nests each year, gradually adding more material to them.

Females lay 1 to 4 eggs, usually 2 to 3 eggs being the most common, laid at intervals of about 2 to 3 days. Incubation lasts around 28 to 35 days, with both parents taking turns incubating the eggs. After hatching, the chicks are cared for by both parents. The female broods the young while the male provides food. The parents tear up prey into smaller pieces and feed the chicks, gradually introducing them to larger food items as they grow.

The fledging period for Red-tailed Hawks occurs around 42 to 46 days after hatching. The young hawks leave the nest and begin to explore nearby perches while still relying on their parents for food and protection. During this time, they develop their flight skills and gradually become independent.

Red-tailed Hawks are not known for long-distance migrations. Some individuals and populations may undertake short-distance movements in response to food availability or seasonal changes.