Red-tailed Hawk

Buteo jamaicensis




Kites, Eagles and Hawks (Accipitridae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

White to pale blue, sometimes with brown spots

Number of Eggs:

2 - 3

Incubation Days:


Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

As high as 120 feet above ground.

Nest Material:

Lined with inner bark strips and evergreen sprigs.





Red-tailed Hawk: Large, highly variable hawk with brown upperparts, head and throat. Underparts are pale with brown streaks. Wings are pale below with dark bar at leading edge and dark tips. Tail is red-brown with dark terminal band. Western birds are usually darker than eastern. Additional forms include the paler Krider’s Red-tailed Hawk and nearly black Harlan’s Red-Tailed Hawk. Sexes are similar. Juvenile has finely banded tail.

Range and Habitat

Red-tailed Hawk: Native only to the Ne-arctic region. They are found throughout the United States and Canada, and into Mexico and Central America. Many birds are year round occupants although the birds of the far north migrate south during the fall to escape the harsh winter. Habitats include open country with scattered, elevated perches, woodlands, mountains, agricultural fields and pastures.

Breeding and Nesting

Red-tailed Hawk: Two to three white to pale blue eggs, sometimes spotted with brown, are laid in a nest constructed from twigs, lined with pine needles and bark, and built in a large tree. Eggs are incubated for about 30 days by both parents; male may bring female food while she is on the nest.

Foraging and Feeding

Red-tailed Hawk: Eats mostly small mammals, but also takes birds and reptiles; male Red-winged Blackbirds are often eaten because of their vulnerability when guarding nests.


Red-tailed Hawk: Screams a loud, harsh, slurred squeal "keee-ahrrr" or "keeer-r-r-r."

Similar Species

Red-tailed Hawk: Rough-legged Hawk has black-banded white tail and darker underparts.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
Terminal bandX
Refers to the contrasting stripe at the tip of the tail.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X