Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

The Red-tailed Hawk is one of the most widely distributed hawks in the Americas. It breeds from central Alaska, the Yukon, and the Northwest Territories east to southern Quebec and the Maritime Provinces of Canada, and south to Florida, the West Indies, and Central America. The winter range stretches from southern Canada south throughout the remainder of the breeding range.

The Red-tailed Hawk is widespread in North America, partially due to historic settlement patterns, which have benefited it. The clearing of forests in the Northeast created hunting areas, while the preservation of woodlots left the species with viable nest sites. The planting of trees in the west allowed the Red-tailed Hawk to expand its range by creating nest sites where there had been none. The construction of highways with utility poles alongside treeless medians provided perfect habitat for perch-hunting. Unlike some other raptors, the Red-tailed Hawk are seemingly unfazed by considerable human activity and can nest and live in close proximity to large numbers of humans. Thus, the species can also be found in cities, where common prey such as rock pigions and brown rats may support their populations.

The Red-tailed Hawk is carnivorous, and an opportunistic feeder. Its diet is mainly small mammals, but it also includes birds and reptiles. Prey varies with regional and seasonal availability, but usually centers on rodents, comprising up to 85% of a hawk’s diet.

A male Red-Tailed Hawk may weigh from 690 to 1,300 g (24 to 46 oz), with a mean weight of 1,030 g (36 oz), and measure 45–60 cm (18–24 in). A female can weigh between 900 and 2,000 g (32 and 71 oz), averaging 1,220 g (43 oz), and measure 48 to 65 cm (19 to 26 in) long.

The Red-tailed Hawk reaches sexual maturity at two years of age. It is monogamous, mating with the same individual for many years. In general, the Red-tailed Hawk will only take a new mate when its original mate dies. The same nesting territory may be defended by the pair for years.

The pair constructs a stick nest in a large tree 4 to 21 m (13 to 69 ft) off the ground or on a cliff ledge 35 m (115 ft) or higher above the ground, or may nest on man-made structures. The nest is generally 71 to 97 cm (28 to 38 in) in diameter and can be up to 90 cm (3.0 ft) tall. The nest is constructed of twigs, and lined with bark, pine needles, corn cobs, husks, stalks, aspen catkins, or other plant lining matter.

References: Wikipedia, Cornell Lab of Ornithology