Thursday, October 20, 2016

Red-tailed Hawks

USFWS Bird Fact Sheet

Photo by Mark Bohn/USFWS
The most common North American hawk, the red-tailed hawk lives in virtually every state in the continental United States, in all kinds of habitats from deserts, prairies, and pastures to open forests and cityscapes.

Most red-tailed hawks stay in the same territory year-round. Birds that summer in the Northern Great Plains migrate to the southern U.S. for the winter.  Red-tailed hawks nest at Hagerman NWR, according to the Birds Checklist publication.

The red-tailed hawk’s raspy scream is so dramatic that Hollywood directors use it on soundtracks as the “voice” of an eagle, falcon or other fierce raptor.

Red-tailed Hawk in Flight at HNWR by Carl Hill
Though their wingspan may be as much as 4½ feet, red-tailed hawks are amazingly lightweight. A large adult may weigh just 3½ pounds.

Instead of plunging from a great height, red-tailed hawks swoop steadily towards their prey, striking with legs outstretched. They sometimes hunt in pairs. A male and a female hawk may take up positions on opposite sides of a tree trunk to capture a squirrel.

•The oldest known red-tailed hawk lived to age 28 years, 10 months

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