Red Tailed Hawk

Recently we paid a visit to one of our favorite places near home, Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge’s busiest time of the year is in the winter with thousands of migrating waterfowl passing through. But there is still a lot to see there other times of the year as well.

In the next few blog posts, I’ll show you all the animals we saw there on our recent trip.

Today’s animal is a Red Tailed Hawk.

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I’ve seen these birds of prey flying overhead all my life. Here a few fast facts:

  • They are the most common hawk in North America
  • They weigh between 1.5 to 3.5 pounds
  • Their wingspan is between 4 and 5 feet
  • Their tail is white below and cinnamon red above, hence the “red tail”
  • They soar in wide circles over open fields looking for prey such as mice, voles, ground squirrels, lizards and snakes
  • On the attack, they descend in a slow controlled dive with feet outstretched
  • Courtship occurs on the wing with the male showing off his acrobatic skill in the air. He will occasionally grab her talons with his own (like holding hands) in mid air. They mate for life.
  • Females lay 1-3 eggs and she is the primary incubator of them. Males incubate the eggs only when the female goes off to feed. Usually the male brings food to the female while she is incubating.
  • Eggs hatch in 28-35 days, and are fed dead animals brought to the nest by the male. The young leave the nest at about 40-45 days. Their parents continue to care for them until they learn to catch their own prey at about 4 months of age.
  • The average lifespan is 20 years.

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Up Next:  Another of the fascinating animals hanging out at the refuge.

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5 comments to Red Tailed Hawk

  • Jeanne

    I’m fascinated by hawks and other birds of prey. They are so beautiful. I didn’t realize the red tails have such a long life span. Thanks for the lovely pictures and the info!

  • Vivian

    Your photos are really great! He/she has some serious talons. I watched one once take apart a squirrel’s nest near where I live. Fascinating and scary at the same time. They are beautiful birds.

  • Tina

    Very beautiful. I love the fact they mate for life and hold hands.

  • Doe in Mi

    Aren’t they beautiful? I moved here 18 yrs. ago and there is a pair living in the woods across the street and are still there. I don’t see them as much as I used too. I’ve always watched for them because they glide and float around so lovely – just to beautiful for words.

  • Lorraine

    Red tail hawks are just beautiful. If I remember correctly they are protected in NY where I once lived. We have hawks come into the back yard here in Lexington in the winter to get their dinners at our bird feeders. No need to go into detail. They are beautiful! You can tell they are in the area in winter because the blue jays will just scream away and scare the other birds away from the feeders.

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