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Red-tailed hawk

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Red-tailed Hawk
Red-tailed hawk.jpg
Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Buteo jamaicensis

The Red-Tailed Hawk's scientific name is Buteo jamaicensis. All members of the genus Buteo are predators commonly known as "Birds of Prey." In the Old World, buteos are named as "buzzards", but "hawk" is used in North America.

The Red-Tailed Hawk got its name from its maroon colored tail feathers. Hawks have very sharp beaks with which to tear open their prey when it has been captured. The Red-Tailed Hawk's eyesight is 8 times better than that of a human and usually flies at very high altitudes because of its keen eyesight. It is a territorial bird and is aggressive and vigorous when something invades its home.


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The Red-Tailed Hawk's wingspan is usually roughly around 4 feet wide. An adult Red-Tailed Hawk weighs around 4 pounds and is roughly 18 inches long. The color of the chest of a Red-Tailed Hawk is white and then it fades to a brown throughout the rest of its body. A hawk's talons have three toes in the front and one toe on the backside for gripping very tightly when grabbing on a tree branch or their prey. The tail of a the Red-Tailed Hawk is large and broad for its size and has a dark red color on the underside of its feathers.


The breeding and nest building time of a Red-Tailed Hawk occurs during early spring. When mating, both male and female perform aerial acrobatic stunts at high altitudes. Both mates help each other build a nest for their young, between 35-75 feet high in the fork of a tree. Once the hawks are finished constructing the nest, the female will then lay 2-3 eggs with brown spots. During the 28-32 days of incubation, the female cares for her offspring while the male will go out and hunts for prey for his mate, and the young also once they hatch. About 45 days later the young will fledge after much practice on the edge of the nest; simulating flight by flapping their wings. The young, now adults, will start mating after 3 years.


Hunting behavior The Red-Tailed Hawk can live almost anywhere, but is found mostly in marshes and grasslands. Its diet consists mostly of rodents.

Related References