The red-tailed hawk is a top predator. The hawks use tall perches to spot their prey in the open spaces next to highways.
- Common Name:
- Red-Tailed Hawk
- Scientific Name:
- Buteo jamaicensis
- Average Life Span In The Wild:
- 21 years
- Body: 18 to 26 inches; wingspan: 38 to 43 inches
- 24.3 to 51.5 ounces
Red-tailed hawks hunt from perches and from the air. As they circle and soar, they can spot a mouse from 100 feet (30 meters) up in the air—about ten stories high. When a red-tailed hawk spots a rodent, rabbit, lizard, or other prey scurrying, it swoops down and grabs its meal in its talons—the big claws on its feet. Once the hawk grabs its prey, it usually flies back up to its perch to eat it.
They were named for the variety that has a brick-red tail. Male and female red-tailed hawks basically look alike, though the females are larger.
Red-tailed hawks often mate for life. The pair makes a stick nest in a tree, high above the ground. They will use the nest year after year, so it grows bigger and bigger.
The female hawk lays one to five eggs—which are white with brown spots. The parents take turns sitting on the eggs, keeping them warm and safe.
Baby red-tailed hawks are covered with white, downy feathers. The hawk parents feed their young until the young birds can leave the nest, usually when they're about six weeks old.