Hawk, Red-tailed

Red-tailed hawkLatin name: Buteo jamaicensis

Length, wingspan: 19″, 49″

What they eat: Carnivorous (primarily rodents, also birds, small mammals, snakes)

Plants that attract: Open fields, tall trees or snags they can perch on

Where they nest: Near the top of tall trees

My observations: Even though Red-tailed hawks are common, I always enjoy watching them hunt gophers and mice in the field at the back of our property. They will occasionally catch snakes as well. Since they are a large, rather slow-flying hawk, they tend to need an advantage in order to catch birds. That usually comes in the form of a tree snag or other high perch where they can use the height to their advantage and swoop down on some unsuspecting prey. They are also opportunists and don’t mind helping themselves to the occasional chicken, which prompted us to cover our chicken pen with wire a few years ago. They have a rather piercing call. Immature red-tails have brown tail feathers, whereas mature adults have the red tail feathers that give them their name. We see them year-round in this region.

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