This raptor (bird of prey) grows up to 25 inches long and can weigh up to four pounds (heavy for a bird; remember, they have hollow bones!). It's wingspan can reach four feet.
Red-tailed Hawks live in forests near open country. Nests are usually built near the edge of a stream, lake, or field.
Red-tailed Hawks are most often seen soaring high above the ground, looking for food. They are very difficult to identify unless they come closer to the earth.
This hawk soars very high in the sky, hunting for food. They have excellent eyesight which is much sharper than a human's. A Red-tailed Hawk can spot a mouse from a height of 100 feet.
These hawks also hunt from perches, usually alongside a field. Most of their prey are small mammals, including: mice, voles, shrews, moles, squirrels, chipmunks, rats, rabbits, opossums, muskrats, cats, skunks, and bats.
Although they eat mostly mammals, there is a great variety of other animals Red-tailed Hawks will prey upon, including: snakes, turtles, frogs, lizards, salamanders, toads, ducks, bobwhite, crows, woodpeckers, starlings, doves, Red-winged Blackbirds, kingfishers, robins, owls, other birds, crayfish, centipedes, spiders, grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, earthworms, and fish.
Nests are built with sticks and lined with twigs, bark shreds, pine needles, and green plant material. The female hawk lays two or three white eggs with brown spots.
While the female warms the eggs (for up to a month), the male hunts and feeds her. Young hawks stay in the nest for approximately one and a half months.
Once they leave the nest, the youngsters hop around a lot on the ground, looking for small prey such as insects and spiders. When they have perfected flying, they will begin to hunt larger prey from the air.
Predators of Red-tailed Hawks include Raccoons, Great Horned Owls, and Red Fox. Red-tailed Hawks can live up to 15 years in the wild.
These hawks swallow smaller prey whole. Birds are beheaded, then eaten. Larger prey are killed with talons, and then pulled into pieces with the hawk's sharp, hooked beak.
Red-tailed Hawks will steal from other raptors, such as eagles, owls, or other hawks.
Mated Red-tailed Hawks will sometimes work together while hunting. An example might be chasing a squirrel around a tree until one of the hawks can catch it.
Red-tailed Hawks throw up pellets. When they swallow prey whole, they regurgitate (throw up) small balls of hair, feathers, and bone.
Red-tailed Hawks are very territorial. They will chase other Red-tailed Hawks and birds larger than them that get too close.