SCIENTIFIC NAME: Buteo jamaicensis
One of the best known and widely distributed hawks. 19 to 25 inches long with a wingspan of 46 to 58 inches. The chestnut red color on the upper side of the tail is a distinguishing field mark which gives it its name. The adults are dark brown above; white with brown streaks below. They are also found in dark and light phase.
Red-tailed hawks are among the largest and most powerful North American hawks. They have broad wings and broad tails that aid in soaring. They hunt while circling. Their excellent binocular vision enables them to spot prey from a great distance. Pairs will claim and defend a territory year after year. They are believed to mate for life, or until the death of their mate. The pair soars and screams in courtship displays. The male will dive at the female, who will turn over in air to present her talons in mock combat . Courtship flights may be at any time of the year during fair weahter. All raptors are protected by state and federal laws.
Life Span: 18 years in the wild, to 29 years in captivity
Eggs: eggs laid February to June, incubation 30+ days, young fledge 45 days later. Incubation mostly by female, male brings her food to the nest.
Clutch Size:1-5 dull white with brown spots.
Nest: Large and bulky, 2.5 to 3 feet across, built of sticks, twigs and bark, 15 to 70 feet up in the crotch of branches near the trunk.
Habitat: Throughout most of North America; they have a wider ecological tolerance of habitats than any other North American hawk. Prefers mixed country with open pastures interspersed with woods.
Food: Beneficial in rodent control, feeds mainly on mice, rats, and squirrels. Will also eat rabbits, birds, snakes (including rattlesnakes), lizards, frogs and salamanders. Mostly often they watch for prey from a perch, but may hunt while soaring.
Ecosystem: Open country, woodlands, mountains and desert.
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