Buteo jamaicensis • Birds
The red-tailed hawk has a chestnut red color on the upper side of the tail as a distinguishing field mark, which gives it its name. The adults are dark brown on top; white with brown streaks below. They are also found with dark and light colorings. They have broad wings and broad tails that aid in soaring and have excellent vision for hunting. The red-tailed hawk is most the most common hawk found in America.
Red-tailed hawks are beneficial to rodent control, feeding mainly on mice, rats, and squirrels. They will also eat rabbits, birds, snakes (including rattlesnakes), lizards, frogs and salamanders. Most often, they watch for prey from a perch but like to hunt while soaring. They attack their prey in a slow, controlled dive with legs outstretched, much different from a falcon’s stoop dive.
Red-tailed hawks have a shrill cry and are often used on soundtracks for television and movies. These hawks prefer mixed country with open pastures interspersed with woods. They court for life with the female mostly incubating the eggs and
the male bringing food to the nest.