Learn all about the red-tailed hawk, a large bird.

The Red-tailed Hawk is a species of bird that has a very big difference to most of the birds that are found today and is that the number of its population has not declined in recent decades, on the contrary, it has noticed a very significant increase.

This type of bird is very common because their number is large, they are usually seen a lot in the territories where it lives, mainly in North America, within the great practice of falconry can be found many copies of it, it is one of the preferred species for this activity.

The Red-tailed Hawk is distributed throughout Alaska and the West Indies, adapting well to some cold climates. According to some studies and special censuses carried out on these birds, their population has gradually increased since some time ago, it is believed that this increase began in the 1960s and is currently maintained or continues to increase, but no serious decrease in the number of individuals has been perceived.

The destruction of the natural habitat of birds is a situation that has affected many species, leading most of them to migrate and even disappear, many individuals of different species end up dying because of the changes that occur in their way of life, but the red-tailed hawk has not been affected by this situation, it has been seen how many of these birds have adapted to the city.

In some regions of the United States you can see how some magnificent specimens of these birds decide to nest in buildings, surviving by obtaining food in large cities, which has not affected them much, because even though their environment has changed, this bird is a very skilled predator and as long as it has food to sustain itself, its lifestyle will not be affected. (See Article About: The Woodcock).

Due to the skills that these large birds possess, they are usually found in all kinds of places such as roadsides, large forests, wide prairies, extensive plains and some open fields, as long as the land has open fields in which hunting can be developed, this bird will adapt very well and can survive, this is the main reason why it has managed to maintain its population and why it will not decline unexpectedly as long as there is no major inconvenience of force majeure.

This species of hawk is among the largest in the United States and is perhaps one of the best known, not only by falconry enthusiasts, but also by those people who use to see them in their cities or excursions in the woods, on long road trips and on many other occasions, if you travel to North America it will be easy to see a specimen of it.

Characteristics of the Red-tailed Hawk

This type of bird is so common and has spread so much throughout the territory, that it is very common to see how it has been related to other birds, some subspecies and some hybrids have emerged as a result of relationships between species, there have been so many variations that it is not known exactly the number that can be found today.

All these variations in the species makes it almost impossible to differentiate a traditional Red-tailed Hawk from those subspecies and variations that have emerged, even for those who are experts in the subject it is difficult to decipher which of these birds you are seeing at the right time.

Those who don’t know much about the subject will simply see all these variations as one and think they are looking at a Red-tailed Hawk without even having any idea what kind of subspecies or derivation it is. Although the variations between one species and another are not that great, they certainly vary in some small features such as plumage or size.(See Article About: The Common Green Bird).

If you want to take into account the characteristics of this species of bird and thus be able to differentiate it at the time of seeing it, you must take into account the following conditions:

  • The plumage is usually the same for juveniles and adults, regardless of the species we are talking about, the only difference that can be noticed between the two is that adults usually have wider wings and a much longer tail due to the time they have lived.
  • Red-tailed Hawks when they are young do not have the characteristic red color in their tails, this becomes so as the years of life of the individual pass, you can also see how the abdominal band is much more defined in young and adults is not so much appreciated.
  • In males and females the plumage is the same, so the sex of the bird cannot be differentiated with the naked eye.
  • The popular name of this bird is due to the light coloration that can be seen in the upper part of the tail, this color can range from a red with orange, a pale pink and even a strong red, but this color can only be seen after one year of age.
  • Only in adults can a black band be seen on the tail, but in some it may never appear.
  • The plumage inside the tail is of a white color, but in some specimens it can become of a certain silver hue.
  • The color of the feathers in the upper part of the back is of a dark brown color, which can present some white, yellow or red spots. The belly is white with some dark bands along the belly section.
  • The legs of this bird are yellow, while the bill turns a dark color.
  • They are large and very imposing birds, measuring between 58 centimeters and 65 centimeters, varying in size depending on the sex and genetic characteristics of each individual.

Feeding

Being one of the most imposing predators of the territory where it lives, this bird usually feeds on small rodents, reptiles, some varied mammals and even some smaller birds.

The feeding that these birds have is not always frequent, it varies according to the place where they are and the time of the year, but because it has incredible skills as a hunter, it always gets food, even in the city.

Among the most frequent prey consumed by the Red-tailed Hawk are usually small moles, rabbits, squirrels, rats and among the birds consumed will depend on what is available, it can even eat large birds if it feels like it, many reptiles are victims of these birds, so much so that history has included birds flying with reptiles in their claws as a symbol of some cultures.

Its spectacular sight, speed, strength and claws, make it one of the most dangerous hunting birds, its prey do not realize that it is attacking them until it is too late, because of all these skills is that people have adopted them for falconry and regardless of the subspecies of this bird in question, always shows exemplary skills.

Depending on the availability of food or the conditions in which it is found, this bird may choose to eat some prey that are outside their usual diet such as bats, toads, insects, frogs and even consume carrion, but if the amount of food available is sufficient, this bird will not choose to consume these animals.

Breeding

The red-tailed hawk may have several eggs, they may normally have between 2 and four eggs and in some rare cases they may have only 1 or even as many as 5 eggs per mating season.

The eggs of these birds have a white background which has some brown spots, they are incubated for periods of 28 days, which can be extended to 35 days if the situation warrants, once these days have elapsed, the chicks finally hatch, during incubation the mother may be absent at some point, but spends most of the time with the chicks.

During the first few weeks the hatchlings are with their mother while the male is in charge of bringing them food. The mother processes the food for the chicks by chopping it into pieces to make it easier for them to eat and digest.

Red-tailed Hawk chicks leave the nest after they are about 6 or 7 weeks old, but they cannot fly yet, so they simply climb or walk around the nest. After about two weeks of leaving the nest, the chicks can fly, sometimes it usually takes more than two weeks, but it depends on how the chicks perform.