Red-tailed Hawk

Buteo
jamaicensis

Red-tailed Hawk
Photo courtesy of Tom Grey

BUTEOS: These are the large hawks with fan-shaped tails. They are often seen soaring on their long, broad wings or sitting in a dead tree along a roadway. They often soar in wide circles with wings in a V-shape. They are the easiest daytime birds to spot. Mistakenly called “chicken hawks,” buteos are actually helpful in controlling rodent populations. Buteos include Red-tailed, Red-shouldered, Rough-legged, Harris’ and Ferruginous Hawks. Food includes rats, mice, rabbits and occasionally small birds and reptiles.

Description:
Plumage extremely variable. A large, dark brown bird; lighter head. Under parts show mottling on shoulders. Most adults have dark streaks in a band across belly. Underside of wing has a dark leading edge. Distinctive reddish-brown tail. Juveniles have a gray-brown tail. Broad wings with fairy rounded tips. Length 20” – 25” (51-64 cm), Wingspan 47” – 56” (127 cm).
Voice:
A distinctive call. A loud, downward slurred scream; prolonged keeeeer
Food:
Feeds mainly on small mammals. Also lizards and other ground dwelling prey. Plays an important role as rodent controller.
Nest:
A large stick nest containing a neat cup; lined with fine roots and green twigs. One to four eggs, whitish with faint marks.
Habitat:
Variable—from tundra to semi-desert. In open fields, forests; often seen flying overhead or swooping from trees across Long Valley.
Range:
North and Central America
Migration:
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