Photographed in Anahuac NWR
Red Tailed Hawk Krider's
Description: The plumage is brownish with a cream colored head and breast- paler than the red-tailed hawk from the eastern US. The adult has a rufous or pinkish colored tail that may or may not have a black terminal bar.
Geographic Range: Native of North America, south to the mountains of western Panama: Bahamas and West Indies, east to St. Kitts and the Virgin Islands, north to Alaska.
Status: Protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This is the most wide-spread of all the hawks in the United States.
Length: 19 – 25 inches in height with a wingspan of 48 – 58 inches.
Weight: 2.5 to 3.8 pounds.
Habitat: Red-tailed Hawks feed in open country (open fields, open woodlands from forest to desert.) They often perch on poles, power lines and treetops.
Typical Diet: Rodents, small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, some poultry and game birds, some carrion.
Similar Species: Red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus)
-The Red-tailed Hawk is among the most common and best known of North America’s hawks.
-The Red-tailed Hawks most dangerous nemesis is the Great Horned Owl.
Photographed in Anahuac NWR on a cold January morning. (He didn't want to fly, just stood his ground and let us drive by.)
When I was beginning to "bird," learning to identify birds that is, an old friend and superior birder told me about the redtail. He said, "You can always tell a redtail in flight by looking at the wings. There are dark bars on the leading edge of the wings and there is usually a dark belly band. You can see both in the photo. He also said that RT Hawks typically sit perched along the side of the road and that (here in Texas) 9/10 perched hawks on telephone poles are RT Hawks. He's right. I think it is also the most photographed hawk there is.
This is probably the most common hawk in North America. If you’ve got sharp eyes you’ll see several individuals on almost any long car ride, anywhere. Red-tailed Hawks soar above open fields, slowly turning circles on their broad, rounded wings. Other times you’ll see them atop telephone poles, eyes fixed on the ground to catch the movements of a vole or a rabbit, or simply waiting out cold weather before climbing a thermal updraft into the sky.
The Red-tailed Hawk has a thrilling, raspy scream that sounds exactly like a raptor should sound. At least, that’s what Hollywood directors seem to think. Whenever a hawk or eagle appears onscreen, no matter what species, the shrill cry on the soundtrack is almost always a Red-tailed Hawk.
Birds are amazingly adapted for life in the air. The Red-tailed Hawk is one of the largest birds you’ll see in North America, yet even the biggest females weigh in at only about 3 pounds. A similar-sized small dog might weigh 10 times that.
The "Harlan's Hawk" breeds in Alaska and northwestern Canada, and winters on the southern Great Plains. This very dark form of the Red-tailed Hawk has a marbled white, brown, and gray tail instead of a red one. It’s so distinctive that it was once considered a separate species, until ornithologists discovered many individuals that were intermediate between Harlan's and more typical Red-tailed Hawks.
Courting Red-tailed Hawks put on a display in which they soar in wide circles at a great height. The male dives steeply, then shoots up again at an angle nearly as steep. After several of these swoops he approaches the female from above, extends his legs, and touches her briefly. Sometimes, the pair grab onto one other, clasp talons, and plummet in spirals toward the ground before pulling away.
Red-tailed Hawks have been seen hunting as a pair, guarding opposite sides of the same tree to catch tree squirrels.
We have many "white" morp of the Red-tailed which I will show you tomorrow.