Red-tailed Hawk - Photo Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image Red-tailed Hawk - Photo Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image Red-tailed Hawk - Photo Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image Red-tailed Hawk - Photo Copyright Ward Cameron 2003 - Click to view a larger image  
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Red-tailed Hawk
Buteo jamaicensis

Hawks, Eagles and Falcons
Hawk Family (Accipitridae)

Size: Length: Male 46-58 cm/Female: 51-64 cm Wingspan: 117-147 cm

Description: The red-tailed hawk is one of the most well known hawks. Like other Buteos, it has both light and dark phases. Both phases have a dark upper surface, and a fan shaped red tail. The underside varies with the two phases. In the dark phase, the breast, belly and wings (to the elbows) are dark. The primaries are light with dark tips. In the light phase, the underside is white, with a reddish breast patch and some light banding in the wings.

Similar Species: The Swainson's hawk is similar but has a heavily banded tail, and a dark bib.

Range: Red-tailed hawks can be found throughout much of the continent, and is common throughout the Canadian and American Rockies. It is a year-round resident in the southern U.S. Rockies.

Habitat: Red-tailed hawks prefer open country, including fields and power-lines.

Diet: They are a major predator of mice, voles, ground squirrels, rabbits, hares, small birds, amphibians and reptiles. They often will perch along fence lines, taking to the wing for brief periods of hunting.

Nesting: Like other Buteos, the red-tailed hawk builds a large, bulky nest of branches and twigs, with a finer lining. The female lays 1-3 white, variably blotchy eggs and both parents help in incubation. The eggs hatch after 28-32 days, with the semi-altricial hatchlings emerging. Both parents care for the young which fly at 6-1/2 weeks.

Notes: Everyone knows the call of the red-tailed hawk. Virtually every hawk call you hear on television or movies, regardless of the bird portrayed, is actually the call of a red-tailed hawk. It is a high-pitched whistling call that drops in tone as it progresses.

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All Material Ward Cameron 2005

 

 

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