Red-tailed Hawk is a common hawk of North America. It is
widespread, occupying a large range of habitats from central Alaska,
south to Venezuela and east to the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean.
A stout-bodied, broad-winged Buteo. Length: males, 45-56cm and
females, 50-65cm. Weight: males, 690-1300g and females,
900-1460g. Wingspan: 100-141cm.
Plumage variation is widespread. Generally, the breast is pale
and the head is dark. Overall, it is dark brown with light mottling
above, most typically light below with a dark bellyband. The
upper side of its tail is rufous with a narrow dark band and light
tip. There is a dark mark on the inner front edge of the
under-wing. Its eyes are brown.
Sexes are similar.
Similar to adults but upperparts are distinctly mottled with white
and has a white V on the scapulars. The breast is usually
shining white and the underparts are more streaked and spotted.
The tail is gray or gray-brown with narrow dusky bars. And its eyes
The common Red-tail Hawk with its large variation in plumage and
size can provide a reference point for comparison of other buteos.
With that in mind, various phases, morphs and ranges of Ferruginous,
Swainsons and Rough-legged Hawks should be studied and compared with
Primarily a sit-and-wait predator, this hawk generally requires an
elevated perch for hunting. It alights from the perch with
powerful wing beats, and then glides snatching prey from the ground
with its talons. In closed canopy tropical forests the
Red-tail dives on prey from the air high above the canopy. It
may also catch bats and other highly concentrated, flying prey in
This bird occupies a large variety of habitats. Commonly it is
a bird of open and wooded areas, particularly wood edges.
Red-tails are seen conspicuously perched atop trees, hydro and
telephone poles or other similar structures while hunting.
They can be found in any habitat that provides open ground for
hunting and an elevation for perching. Its diet is small and
medium sized mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, arthropods and
Red-tailed Hawk varies greatly across its range with up to 16
subspecies recognized. Races are usually distinguished by
ventral colouration, tail markings and/or size, but there is no
clear geographical trend in any of these characters. Migration is
Courtship displays consist of a series of steep dives and climbs and
include glides by both adults together with their feet down sounding
nest is located high in a tree or other high structure. It is
a bulky bowl of sticks, built by both sexes and lined with finer
to three white eggs, blotched with brown are laid.
Global populations are 2 million or more and considered stable or