CREDITS: I would like to thank Jeremy D'Entremont for providing much of the history one can find on this site. He is a speaker, author, historian, and tour guide who is widely recognized as the foremost authority on the lighthouses of New England. For a story on Jeremy or to visit his site (New England Lighthouses: A Virtual Guide), use the corresponding link in the right hand information bar under "Related Links".

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I have set up this site as a means to share my photographs of lighthouses. Since retiring and finding more time to study photography, my interests have expanded a little. For some of my work other than lighthouses please enjoy my Facebook page at, John Shaw Photography. Come visit, enjoy, and 'LIKE' if you wish.

Also, for your enjoyment, I have provided a slideshow of our journey. To view it please use the link on the right under 'Site Navigation Tools'.

I sincerely hope you enjoy my efforts and use my site not only for information and education but also to provide directions for many enjoyable, inspirational visits to the beacons along our beautiful coas.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Red-Tailed Hawk

     My wife and I recently returned from a trip to Oregon to visit our daughter and her family.  While there we visited the Gorge Discovery Center where we attended a presentation by a naturalist on raptors. It was so good I thought I would share some of the photos I took as well as information on these interesting birds of prey.  I sincerely hope you enjoy my findings that I will present in three separate posts.

     Red-tailed Hawks are large, stocky birds. They are brown with a white breast and a rust-colored tail. If you can get close enough, the tail is the best way to identify them. Young Red-tailed Hawks are more dull in color, have more streaks, and are missing the red in their tails.
     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.

     Red-tailed Hawks will also eat roadkill and other carrion (previously dead, but fairly fresh animals).

     Red-tailed Hawks mate in the Spring. They perform a sort of courtship "dance" where the male and female dive and roll in the sky. They will even lock talons (sharp toes) and fall together awhile before splitting apart. Both the male and female build the nest. They usually choose a very tall tree, such as an oak or pine, or a rock ledge.
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.

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