RED-TAILED HAWK

RED-TAILED HAWK (Buteo jamaicensis)
 DESCRIPTION: The Red-tailed Hawk  It is mainly brown with a reddish tail, which gives it its name. Females are larger than males. It is a fairly large bird of prey, with a wing span extending to almost 5 feet (150 cm), and a length 54 cm (22 inches).
VOICE: https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Buteo-jamaicensis – The call of the red-tailed hawk sounds rather sinister, which is why it is also sometimes used in movies.
NAME: The English name ‘Hawk’ stems from an Anglo-Saxon word that means ‘to seize’. The Latin genus name ‘Buteo’ means ‘hawk’, and the Latin species name ‘Jamaicensis’ refers to Jamaica, the location of the first identified individual.
HABITAT: Diversified open country.
DIET: The bird’s diet consists mainly of small mammals such as rodents (see photo below), but they can also eat birds and reptiles, even fish.
NESTING: The nest is built in a tree and made of twigs, with finer material on the inside. Usually two or three light blue eggs are laid, which are incubated by the parents.
DISTRIBUTION: The red-tailed hawk is a North American species, where it is widespread. Most birds in Canada and Alaska will migrate in the USA for the winter.
ON PEI: This hawk breeds on Prince Edward Island but is uncommon, and rare in the winter.
CONSERVATION: Numbers of this hawk have increased in the last few decades and it is currently not considered at risk.
NOTES: Red-tailed hawks are in high demand by farmers, as they chase away the crows that eat their crops. But since the crows are more numerous, they will mob the red-tailed hawk and chase it away, so it goes both ways. Here’s an article about a red-tailed hawk hunting crows (successfully) right in Charlottetown. Crows can be a serious nuisance for farmers, so they will sometimes install electronic repellers in their fields, imitating the sound of birds of prey such as the red-tailed hawk.
Red-tailed hawks are also a popular bird in falconry, because they have a good capacity for being trained and tamed, and are resistant to diseases so they live longer.
Please note the leucistic individual below. For more information on leucism in birds you can click here.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Northern Goshawk, Rough-legged Hawk
REFERENCES: https://www.borealbirds.org/bird/red-tailed-hawk
http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/redtailhawk.htm (New Hampshire PBS)
https://identify.whatbird.com/obj/41/overview/Red-tailed_Hawk.aspx
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-tailed_hawk
https://www.mba-aom.ca/jsp/toc.jsp (Maritimes Breeding Bird Atlas)
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Red-tailed_Hawk/id
https://www.thespruce.com/red-tailed-hawk-387279
https://hawkwatch.org/learn/factsheets/item/104-redtailed-hawk
https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/red-tailed-hawk (Missouri Department of Conservation)

This Red-tailed Hawk just caught a meadow vole - Summerside, PEI - Apr. 2017 - © Marie Smith
This Red-tailed Hawk just caught a meadow vole – Summerside, PEI – Apr. 2017 – © Marie Smith
Red-tailed hawk - Ross Corner area, PEI - Oct. 4, 2016 - by Chris Rice
Red-tailed hawk – Ross Corner area, PEI – Oct. 4, 2016 – by Chris Rice
Red-tailed Hawk, leucistic individual - Hunter River area, PEI - July 31, 2017
Red-tailed Hawk, leucistic individual – Hunter River area, PEI – July 31, 2017 – Brett MacKinnon
Red-tailed Hawk - East Point, PEI - © JoAnne Dunphy - Dec. 23, 2014
Red-tailed Hawk – East Point, PEI – © JoAnne Dunphy – Dec. 23, 2014
Red-tailed Hawk - Ross Corner area, PEI - Oct. 4, 2016 -
Red-tailed Hawk – Ross Corner area, PEI – Oct. 4, 2016 – Chris Rice
Red-tailed hawk in the winter - North Rustico, PEI - Jan. 6, 2017 - by Matt Beardsley
Red-tailed hawk in the winter – North Rustico, PEI – Jan. 6, 2017 – by Matt Beardsley
Red-tailed Hawk seen at Ross Corner area, PEI - Oct. 4, 2016 -
Red-tailed Hawk seen from above – Ross Corner area, PEI – Oct. 4, 2016 – Chris Rice

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