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Desert Diary
Birds/Red-tailed Hawk


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A hawk soars high overhead, searching for careless ground squirrels or rabbits. Its rusty red-colored tail gives it away—it's a Red-tailed Hawk. Of about 23 kinds of hawks and eagles in the desert Southwest, this one may be the easiest to identify.

These magnificent creatures like to have a "room with a view", so nests are built in high places for a complete panorama. Homebodies, the red-tails often return to the same nest year after year, touching it up each time.

Although some are present year-round, it is when they're flying southward for the winter that you are most likely to see lots of them. They tend to fly near mountains then, where updrafts help keep them aloft. From the right point, you can see literally hundreds pass each day! When traveling, be sure to look along the fence posts and telephone poles, their favorite perching places. Who knows—maybe you'll be lucky enough to see one swoop down and catch a meal!
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Listen to the Audio (mp3 format) as recorded by KTEP, Public Radio for the Southwest.


Contributor: Scott Cutler, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk. Photo by George W. Robinson. © California Academy of Sciences, 1999.



Ligon, J. S. 1961. New Mexico Birds and Where to Find Them. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, 360 pp.