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Buteo jamaicensis

Common Names: Red-Tailed Hawk,
Buteo jamaicensis
Buteo jamaicensis

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Accipitriformes
Family: Accipitridae
Genus: Buteo
Species: Buteo jamaicensis

Conservation Status

Identifying Features

The red-tailed hawk is a large raptor with wingspan that reaches just over 4 feet! They sport dark brown wings, a white breast streaked with black or brown, and a tail with a pale orange underside. They also have a very distinct call, a sharp and raspy scream.

Habitat & Range

The red-tailed hawk is widespread throughout North and Central America. They are found in woodland edges and fields, nesting in tall trees.


Red-tailed hawks primarily feed on small rodents, but will also feed on a variety of small animals, including other birds, reptiles, fish, and amphibians.

They are high soaring birds that dive upwards of 120mph to catch prey in their powerful talons. They like to sit atop high places like telephone poles and the tops of trees hoping to catch a glimpse of a small mammal that they can swoop down on.

Red-tailed cries are sharp and piercing, usually heard in movies and TV whenever there is a hawk or eagle of any species.

Life Cycle

Red-tailed hawks have a clutch of one to three eggs are laid in the spring. After 30 to 35 days the eggs hatch. After 42 to 46 days the hatchling will begin to leave the nest. For another 3 weeks the fledgling will take short flights. After 6 to 7 weeks the young begin to capture their own prey. After 4 months the young are now on their own.

Featured image by Christine Fournier.

See Me At Cayuga Nature Center


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