• Red-Tailed Hawk

    Category: Birds

    One of the most widely-distributed raptors worldwide, the red-tailed hawk is able to live in a variety of ecosystems, including deserts, grasslands, forests, open fields, and even urban areas. If you live in North America, chances are you’ve seen one of these hawks!

    Red-Tailed Hawk

    Red-Tailed Hawk

    Scientific & Common Names

    Kingdom - Animalia

    Phylum - Chordata

    Class - Aves

    Order - Acciptriformes

    Family - Accipitridae

    Genus – Buteo

    Species – B. jamaicensis

    Common Names – Red-Tailed Hawk, Chickenhawk, Harlan's Hawk (B. j. harlani subspecies), Krider's Hawk (B. j. kriderii subspecies), Redtail

    Characteristics

    The red-tailed hawk is a fairly large and stocky bird of prey (or raptor). There are 14 recognized subspecies, separated from each other by their range and differences in plumage coloration. Even within subspecies, there are different colorations or "morphs". They are typically brown above and lighter below, with a reddish-brown tail being a shared characteristic between all of its variations.

    Breeding

    Male red-tailed hawks perform elaborate mating routines, circling and diving to impress females. Mating pairs stay together for many years, possibly for life. Females lay one to three eggs.

    Behavior

    These hawks hunt rodents, rabbits, fish, reptiles and frogs with their keen eyesight. They scan for prey either while flying or while perched in a tree. When one locates a tasty animal on the ground below, it will swoop down and seize it in its talons. They occasionally hunt in pairs, with one hawk driving the unsuspecting prey into the waiting claws of the other.

    History

    Red-tailed hawks are known to have a very strong relationship with humans, and are the most common bird used in falconry. As far as birds of prey go, they’re actually very social, making them easier to tame and train. Because of their relatively large size and lack of dexterity when compared to other raptors, red-tailed hawks are often used to hunt ground animals like rabbits instead of small, flighty birds. Although you can’t go hunting with it, this red-tailed hawk is every bit as sociable as its species would suggest!

    Present Status

    Red-tailed hawks are a wide-ranging species that can exist in a multitude of diverse habitats. They are a species of "Least Concern" according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. However, they are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in North America.

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