The Red-tailed Hawk is a common bird of prey that can be found throughout
the contiguous 48 states, Canada into Alaska. These large hawks are commonly
seen sitting in trees alongside roads and highways near large fields
bordered by tree line.
Red-tailed Hawks are the most common and widespread
hawk in North America. Red-tail numbers have increased significantly as a
result of forest fragmentation that creates the mosaic of interspersed
wooded and open areas they prefer. In some areas, this increase has been at
the expense of Red-shouldered, Ferruginous, and Swainson's Hawks. (1)
Along with the
the Red-tail Hawk is
the most commonly captured raptor for falconry in the United States.
Red-tailed Hawks typically put their nests in the
crowns of tall trees, cliffs or high on man-made structures where they have
a commanding view of the landscape. Both male and female will help in
building the nest. The female lays 1 to 3 brown spotted white eggs. Clutch
size depends almost exclusively on the availability of prey for the adults.
The incubation period is between 2835 days. The chicks are born helpless
and need the parents to provide food and protection. The chicks fledge in 42
Red-tailed Hawk plumage can be variable, depending on the subspecies and the
hawks are 1722 long with a wingspan of 44-53. They weight 24-46 oz (1 ½
to 3 lbs.) - females are up to 25% larger than males.
Red-tailed Hawk occupies a wide range of habitats and altitudes, including
deserts, grasslands, coniferous and deciduous forests, tropical rainforests,
agricultural fields and urban areas.
The Red-tailed Hawk lives throughout the North American continent, in
Central America, and in the West Indies. except in areas of unbroken forest
or the high arctic. It is legally protected in Canada, Mexico and the United
States by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
Red-tailed Hawks that breed in the northern parts of Canada and Alaska
migrate south in late fall. The winter range stretches from southern Canada
south throughout the remainder of the breeding range
Red-tailed Hawks are carnivores and eat small mammals, such as rodent, mice,
rabbits, etc. They also eat birds (I was once fortunate enough to witness a
Red-tail kill a pigeon
in Troy, NY), reptiles, fish or large insects. They
will eat fresh carrion.