Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk

This is a very grainy picture (taken on my phone) of a Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis).  This large bird was up on it’s perch watching me while I was waiting on some guests at the kayak dock.  These birds are some of the most distinguishable birds around.  They are the most widespread hawk species in all of North America and can be seen flying over a wide variety of habitats.  Their striking red tail is the most noticeable feature of this bird and is the easiest way to identify it.

Red-tailed Hawks are monogamous birds like the Bald Eagle.  They will not leave their mates and will only seek out another if the previous one dies.  They make a distinct vocalization, a very high pitched screeching noise.  This sound has been herd by most people on movies when there is a large bird of prey, most likely a Bald Eagle, even though the Red-tailed Hawk is the only bird that makes this sound (Bald Eagles actually make a very different sound altogether). They are opportunistic eaters that mostly feed on small rodents, but will go after small reptiles and other prey.  In the past they were actively shot because people thought they would eat their chickens or other fowl, which they rarely do. These birds, because of their large numbers and vast intelligence, are the number one bird of prey in North America taken and trained for Falconry.

Even though these birds are very widespread and most people take them for granted,  they are actually very interesting birds.  I get excited every time I see one.  The one that I took a bad picture of had been watching me for at least 5 minutes before I noticed it was there.  Seeing one that close was awesome.  I found some better pictures of these hawks on the internet and added them below so y’all could see them.

red-tailed-hawk-02-san-juan-islands-washington 57A9253-Edit20121102RNWR

Now go out and see if you can see one for yourself!!!

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