Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed hawks are one of the most common hawk species in North America. This may be because they are so adaptable to their surroundings – all they need is:

  • a high place to build a nest of gathered sticks
  • an open area where prey can be found and
  • a high perch to watch prey from.

Red-Tailed hawks have found suitable habitat in a variety of areas including metropolitan cities, parks, farm fields, deserts, prairies, woods, and mountainous areas. As well, they are not picky eaters and will eat whatever small mammals, birds or reptiles are available.

Red-tailed Hawks are raptors – birds that seize prey with their claws, called talons. Adults have a distinctive brownish-red tail, while juveniles have a pale tail with fine dark barring. The females tend to be slightly larger than the males, with an average wingspan of about 4 feet.

A mating pair of Red-tailed hawks usually stay together till the death of one of them. A pair of Red-tailed Hawks can produce 1 - 5 eggs per year, which are incubated mainly by the female for 4 - 5 weeks. The babies (fledglings) stay in the nest around 6 weeks. When the fledglings learn to fly, the parent hawks give them 3 week to learn to hunt and then be on their own.

In recent years, the Red-tailed Hawk has become a year-round resident in High Park's wooded areas and has also bred in the park. The abundance of prey such as squirrels and chipmunks provides an adequate food supply. Red-tailed Hawks can also be seen passing over the park during fall migration.

By Brenda Solobay

Red-tailed Hawk with squirrel
Brenda Solobay
Red-tailed Hawks sparring
Lu Liu

See also:

- High Park Hawk Watch

- Hawk Hill

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Content last modified on January 17, 2017, at 12:46 AM EST