STATUS IN THE WILD: Least Concern
RANGE: North and Central Americas
PHYSICAL FEATURES AND CHARACTERISTICS
One of the most common hawks gets its name from the red tint of the feathers in its broad tail. Most red-tailed hawks have rich brown backs and pale chests. The belly is streaked with a dark bar on the underside of the wings. This species varies greatly with about sixteen subspecies. Immature hawks also vary in appearance but are usually brown above and white below with dark spots and streaks and lack the distinctive red tail. They will lose juvenile feathers after one to two years and gain their adult plumage.
LIFESTYLE AND REPRODUCTION
Red-tailed hawks are most commonly seen soaring in large circles above fields and open areas. This species attacks prey in a slow, controlled dive with its strong legs and sharp talons outstretched towards the ground.
This species breeds in the early spring, often putting on elaborate courtship displays, which involve pairs soaring in large circles before the male dives steeply to the ground before shooting back up at an intense angle. Red-tailed hawks breed for life, with both taking responsibility in nest building. The nest is constructed of dry sticks lined with bark, foliage, and vegetation. During nesting, the parents are extremely territorial and will guard nests aggressively. Usually, two or three eggs are laid and incubated for about a month. The offspring will leave the nest before two months of age but will stick around the parents for another one to two months before becoming fully independent.
The red-tailed hawk can live from Alaska and most of Canada down through Mexico into a large portion of Central America.
This species can adapt to a large variety of habitats, ranging from deserts to parks. However, it is typically found around open areas with patches of trees.
This species mainly eats rodents and other small mammals but will occasionally eat birds, snakes, and carrion.