Absolute Predator


Red Tail Hawk


Red Tail Hawks  


It should seem pretty obvious why red tail hawks have been given such a name. Their distinct red tails make them easy to identify. These hawks however have more to them than just their colored tails to distinguish them by.  


Red Tail Hawk Species 


Red tail hawks can be correctly characterized as buzzards. A buzzard is a large, soaring bird of prey that hunts small land animals. There are twenty-five species in the genus Buteo that fit this category. The hawk with the red tail however is one of the most popular. This hawk is also known simply as red tail or chicken hawk. It goes by the scientific name Buteo jamaicensis jamaicencis.  


Red Tail Hawks Appearance and Traits 


Obviously, the most distinct trait of red tail hawks is their short russet tails. Some of them however may have tails with hints of black. Most of these hawks have bodies that are predominantly auburn with a few dark feathers noticeable along the outer lines of the wings. Their wings may have a few brown feathers and their feathers from the neck down to the belly are a shade of cinnamon cut short by a black bellyband. Young red tail hawks have the same plumage color as adults but their tails are brown with black bands that eventually disappear as they mature.  


As adults, red tails are quite large. They can grow to a maximum of 65 cm and have an average weight of 1.25 kg. Female are often bigger than males. This is a common trait among many other hawk species.  


One trait that red tail hawks share with many other large birds is their soaring nature. This is actually a useful and necessary hawk behavior. Soaring at high altitudes actually allows these hawks to conserve energy which would otherwise have been quickly expended if they choose to flap their wings. Although soaring is a term that is reserved for flight high above the ground, red tails can hover near the ground when there are strong air currents.   


As these birds soar, their distinct sounds can easily be distinguished. Young birds left behind in nests can wail loudly. Adult red tail hawks on the other hand have a more rasping sound. This rasping scream is often loudest when the hawks have to defend themselves against some perceived threat.  


Red Tail Hawk Eating


Red Tail Hawks Food Hunting 


Red tail hawks are diurnal. This means they prefer to hunt during the day and to sleep during the night. Day hunting is a must because like other hawks, red tails rely a lot on their sense of sight. They are also more likely to spot small prey on the move during the day than during the night. Red tails eat small mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects. They hunt by flying above the ground to look for potential prey. When they spot something good to eat, they swoop down after it.  


Red Tail Hawks Habitat 


Red tail hawks are resilient creatures. They are able to survive in many different kinds of environments. They have been found in deserts, forests and grasslands. They are however considered natives of North America. In the winter however, they tend to move to warmer regions like Central America.  






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