Red-tailed hawk
Buteo jamaicensis
Family Accipitridae
Subfamily Buteonidae

The red-tailed hawk is a common North American raptor that can often be seen soaring on updrafts of warm air high above meadows in search of small mammals to eat.

Identifying Traits (both sexes):

  • Short yellow bill, sharply hooked and tipped with black
  • Faintly mottled brown above
  • Underparts off-white, with brown streaking across belly
  • Wide, rust-red tail; appears pale from below
  • Often seen soaring overhead in wide circles
  • Juvenile: Paler in coloration; tail dark gray
  • Size: 55 cm (21”)
  • Weight: 1.3 kg (3.0 lbs.)

Similar Species: Sharp-shinned hawk is much smaller, with shorter wings and a longer tail.

Voice: The red-tailed hawk utters a wheezy, downward-slurring screech: keeeer-r-r.

Habitat: The red-tailed hawk can be seen flying over wooded areas, meadows, open plains, mountains, and occasionally roadsides.

Range: The red-tailed hawk is a year-round resident of most of the United States, though it retreats south of Vermont and New Hampshire in the colder months.

Interesting Facts: There are many subspecies of red-tailed hawk, including the pale Krider’s red-tailed hawk and the dark Harlan’s red-tailed hawk.  These and other color morphs rarely venture as far east or north as New England.



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