Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Buteo jamaicensis

Least Concern

Known for their distinctive reddish-brown tail and piercing screech, the Red-tailed Hawk is a commanding presence in the skies of North America. As one of the most widespread hawks in the continent, this majestic bird soars above open country, woodlands, and prairies, their robust figure and sharp hunting skills making it a notable character within the diverse North American bird population.

Appearance and Identification

Males and females have similar plumage

Primary Color


Primary Color (juvenile)


Secondary Colors

White, Black

Secondary Colors (female)

Secondary Colors (juvenile)

White, Black

Secondary Colors (seasonal)

Wing Color


Wing Color (juvenile)


Beak Type

Short and Hooked

Beak Color


Beak Color (juvenile)


Leg Color


Leg Color (juvenile)


Distinctive Markings

Dark patagial marks on the leading edge of the inner wing

Distinctive Markings (juvenile)

Broad, dark brown streaks

Tail Description

Reddish-brown with a narrow black subterminal band

Tail Description (juvenile)

Brown with narrow dark bands

Size Metrics

45cm to 65cm


110cm to 145cm


690g to 1.3kg



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Vocalization and Sounds

Primary Calls

Raspy, screaming kee-eeeee-arr

Call Description

Long, raspy scream that starts high and descends in pitch

Alarm Calls

A loud, harsh kree-eee-ar

Behavior and Social Structure

Daily Activities

Active during the day, mostly in the morning and late afternoon

Social Habits

Solitary, except during migration or at winter roosts

Territorial Behavior

Defends territory, especially during breeding season

Migratory Patterns

Northern populations migrate south for winter

Interaction with Other Species

Generally tolerant of other birds, but will defend nest against all intruders


Primary Diet

Mammals, Birds, Reptiles

Feeding Habits

Hunts from a perch or in flight

Feeding Times

Mostly during the day, especially early morning and late afternoon

Prey Capture Method

Diving from the air

Diet Variations

Diet varies by region and season

Special Dietary Needs (if any)

None known


Nesting Location

Tall trees, cliffs, cacti

Nest Construction

Large structure of sticks, lined with bark, leaves and other vegetation

Breeding Season


Number of clutches (per breeding season)


Egg Appearance

White, often blotched with brown

Egg Size

Approximately 6cm x 5cm

Clutch Characteristics

1-5 eggs, usually two or three

Incubation Period

28-35 days

Fledgling Period

42-46 days after hatching

Parental Care

Both parents incubate eggs and feed chicks

Distribution and Habitat

Geographic Range

North America, Central America, West Indies

Habitat Description

Open country, woodlands, prairie groves, mountains, plains

Elevation Range

Sea level to 3000m

Migration Patterns

Northern populations migrate south for winter


Forest, Grassland

Climate zones

Temperate, Tropical

Distribution Map

Please note, this range and distribution map is a high-level overview, and doesn't break down into specific regions and areas of the countries.

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