Appearance

Red-tailed hawks are the second-biggest buteo hawks in this ecosystem, second only to the ferruginous hawk. They are heavier than Swainson’s hawks, although their wingspan is a bit shorter. Red-tailed hawks tend to be bulky, and when seen from below in the sun, the dark bars on the wings and the signature red tail are quickly recognizable.

Red-Tailed Hawks in this ecosystem

Red-tailed hawks are the most common hawk in this area, and one of the most common in the world. They are usually seen soaring high over open fields or perched somewhere with a good view, like a telephone pole or fencepost.

Red-tailed hawks are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, though many of the red-tails in this ecosystem live here year-round.

DIET

In the wild, red-tailed hawks eat mostly rodents & rabbits, but they are opportunistic feeders, also eating birds, reptiles, fish, and carrion.

At the Sanctuary, we feed a variety of small animal, principally rodents.

BEHAVIOR & Lifespan

Red-tailed hawk nests can be up to 6½ feet high and 3 feet around, usually up high on a cliff or tall tree.

In the wild, red-tailed hawks have a life expectancy of about 21 years; in captivity they can live over 30 years.

Taxonomy

KINGDOM: Animalia
PHYLUM: Chordata
CLASS: Aves
ORDER: Accipitriformes
FAMILY: Accipitridae
GENUS: Buteo
SPECIES: jamaicensis

conservation status

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Least Concern

MOST ACTIVE

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Diurnal

Our Red-Tailed Hawk

  MIA  came to YWS in 2011 with a wing injury that limits her ability to fly, preventing her from ever being released into the wild. We believe she was about 2 years old when we got her. You will often see her wearing jesses (leather bracelets), as she is being trained for education programs.

MIA came to YWS in 2011 with a wing injury that limits her ability to fly, preventing her from ever being released into the wild. We believe she was about 2 years old when we got her. You will often see her wearing jesses (leather bracelets), as she is being trained for education programs.

 

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