Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
All states of the US except Hawaii. Winters from southern Canada southward.
Length 17-22 inches (male); 19-26 inches (female)
Wingspan 45-52 inches (both sexes)
Weight 24-46 ounces (male); 32-52 ounces (female)
Woodland and field edges, grasslands.
Mainly mammals such as rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, mice and voles; occasionally snakes or carrion.
Very common and adaptable hawk. May hunt from a perch such as the top of an oak tree near a meadow or a telephone pole, but prefer to soar and watch for prey movement on the ground below. Not particularly speedy fliers, but powerful with excellent vision, are very quick and strong when attacking prey. Excellent parents; very protective of their territory, vigorously repelling intruders.
Juveniles (usually three) start learning to hunt soon after they fledge, but receive supplemental feedings from the parents during this period of their lives. Red-tails do not feed or hunt together, but do form lifelong pair bonds and tend to return to the same territory year after year.
Mature birds have a burnt-orange colored tail, and a dark patch on the inside of the shoulder (called the patagial patch). Juveniles have the patch, but have a tail with alternating narrow dark/lighter bands. They get their burnt-orange tail with the first molt, in the early summer of their second year.