Species: Buteo jamaicensis
HABITAT AND RANGE:
This hawk prefers deciduous forests and
open country, including tundra, plains
and farmland. They live throughout North
America, from Alaska east to Nova
Scotia, but are not common in the far
north. They winter south from British
Columbia and the Maritime Provinces.
The Red-Tailed Hawk is a large, stocky
bird that has a wingspan of
approximately 4 feet. This species is
quite variable in color, but typically
has a whitish breast and a rust-colored
tail. They are distinguished from the
Swainson’s and the Red-Shouldered Hawks
by their stocky build, broader, more
rounded wings and white chest.
This is the most common and widespread
American species of the genus Buteo.
Along with other hawk species, the
Red-Tailed Hawk has exceptional
eyesight. It is a soaring bird, allowing
it to spend long periods of time gliding
effortlessly over its hunting grounds.
The Red-Tailed Hawk soars above open
country in search of its prey, but also
often perches in tree at the edge of a
meadow watching for movement. These
birds rarely kill other birds. They
usually will feed on small rodents. The
mainstays of their diet are mice, moles,
shrews and voles. However, they will
catch larger animals, such as squirrels
and chipmunks, if given the opportunity.
REPRODUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT:
The bond between a mating pair is
strong, even in the non-mating season.
The large female will defend her smaller
male against aggressors. Mating occurs
in the spring, usually during late March
or early April. The mating pair usually
builds a nest of sticks lined with
shreds of bark and bits of fresh
vegetation. The nests are placed in tall
trees or on tall rock ledges for
protection against nest-raiding
predators. The female lays between 2-3
brown-spotted white eggs.
STATUS IN WILD:
The greatest threats to the Red-Tailed
Hawk are collisions with automobiles,
shootings and human interference with
nesting grounds. They are protected
under the U.S. Migratory Bird Act.