Red-Tailed Hawk (buteo jamaicensis)

Red Tailed Hawk

Red Tailed Hawk, photo by David Marvin

Sometimes the photos I link to go away, so here’s an old post with a new face!

All About Birds page on the Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) says:

This is probably the most common hawk in North America. If you’ve got sharp eyes you’ll see several individuals on almost any long car ride, anywhere. Red-tailed Hawks soar above open fields, slowly turning circles on their broad, rounded wings. Other times you’ll see them atop telephone poles, eyes fixed on the ground to catch the movements of a vole or a rabbit, or simply waiting out cold weather before climbing a thermal updraft into the sky.

A couple fun facts:

The Red-tailed Hawk has a thrilling, raspy scream that sounds exactly like a raptor should sound. At least, that’s what Hollywood directors seem to think. Whenever a hawk or eagle appears onscreen, no matter what species, the shrill cry on the soundtrack is almost always a Red-tailed Hawk.

The Red-tailed Hawk is one of the largest birds you’ll see in North America, yet even the biggest females weigh in at only about 3 pounds. A similar-sized small dog might weigh 10 times that.

Courting Red-tailed Hawks put on a display in which they soar in wide circles at a great height. The male dives steeply, then shoots up again at an angle nearly as steep. After several of these swoops he approaches the female from above, extends his legs, and touches her briefly. Sometimes, the pair grab onto one other, clasp talons, and plummet in spirals toward the ground before pulling away.

Red-tailed Hawks have been seen hunting as a pair, guarding opposite sides of the same tree to catch tree squirrels.

The oldest known Red-tailed Hawk was 28 years 10 months old.

Click through for more info, photos and hawk sounds. Also see Buteo jamaicensis (red-tailed hawk) from the ADWRed-tailed Hawk on Wikipedia and Red-tailed hawk for Kids (also ADW).

View David’s photo background bigtacular and see more in his Birds slideshow.

More Michigan birds from Michigan in Pictures!

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