What do you know about Red-tailed Hawks?

by OBDK on February 09, 2021

Red-tailed Hawks are one of the most common hawk species in North America. These birds stand between 18 and 26 inches tall, with a wingspan of about 38 to 43 inches. They weigh as little as 1.5 pounds to as heavy as over 3 pounds.1


Why are they called Red-tailed Hawks?

These birds are so named for their red tails. The rest of their bodies are usually brown on the back, with white feathers on the front. Younger ones don’t have the red tail quite yet, but will have brown tail feathers.2 The coloring on these hawks can vary dramatically depending on where they live. Red-tailed hawks that live in the West will have darker coloring than those in the East.2&3


Where do Red-Tailed Hawks Live?

They can be found in Canada, the United States, Mexico, and even into Central America.4 Red-tailed hawks prefer to be in open areas where they can perch high above their prey before diving down to get them.1 They’ve done well adapting to urbanized areas, too, as they can use telephone poles as a perfect perching spot.2 

When they spot prey, they dive after it with their legs outstretched.2 They usually consume mice, rabbits, other birds, lizards, and snakes.4


Mating & Reproduction of Red-tailed Hawks

When courting, these hawks will perform incredible theatrics in the air. They’ll fly in circles around each other and then the male will dive before flying back up toward his mate again. They’ll also hold onto each other with their talons and spin around as they head back toward the ground.1

The female will lay 1-5 eggs each year and both parents work together to take care of them, like sharing incubation responsibilities. Babies will leave the nest around a month and a half later.1


In the wild, they can live to be over 20 years old. They are listed as of “Least Concern” by the IUCN with an increasing population trend.1


Have you spotted a red-tailed hawk before? Where did you see it? Let us know by replying to this email or tagging @theowlbrand on social media!

Sources & Further Reading:

  1. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/r/red-tailed-hawk/

  2. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Red-tailed_Hawk/id#

  3. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Red-tailed_Hawk/id#

  4. https://raptor.umn.edu/about-raptors/raptors-north-america/red-tailed-hawk