Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
Red-tailed: in reference to the rusty-red
tail of adults.
Other names: buzzard hawk, hen hawk, red-tailed buzzard, red eagle (Hopi); Spanish – aguililla parda, aguililla ratonera.
Class: Aves; Order: Falconiformes; Family: Accipitridae
Key Identification Characters:
A variable species with light and dark colored individuals, typically: dark head and upperparts, tail brick red or at least with reddish tinges, dark bars and streaks on belly ("belly band"); immature: dark head and upperparts, tail grayish-brown with dark narrow bands (no red), whitish underparts with dark spots and streaks on belly ("belly band"); males and females similar. Length, 19"; wingspan, 49".
North America southward to Panama, West Indies.
About 80% small mammals including rabbits, smaller hares, squirrels, voles; birds and snakes make up most of the remaining food, although it does take a few amphibians and occasionally carrion.
Number of eggs/clutch: range of 1 to 4, generally 2 to 3; egg: white, sparsely to heavily blotched and spotted with shades of brown; 2.35" x 1.80"; nesting: generally in tallest tree with open top giving unobstructed views, occasionally cliffs or in low bushes where trees not available; nest often reused; constructed of twigs and sticks interlaced to a height of about 4" to 5" and about 30" in diameter.
Photo Credit: George W. Robinson © California Academy of Sciences.
Contributor: Scott M. Cutler, Curator of Collections and Exhibits; Curator of Ornithology