Red-tailed hawks get their name from a very obvious source: most have bright red tails that are easily identified while in flight. This hawk is the most widespread and common hawk in North America. Often known locally as “chicken hawks,” these birds gained an unfortunate reputation for feeding on chickens, but this is rarely the case. They are often seen soaring high above farm fields, so it is most likely their proximity to coops that gained them this bad reputation. The red-tailed hawk has about 14 subspecies dependent on coloration and the region in which they are found. Fun fact: when you see a hawk or eagle in a movie or on tv, the sound your hear is almost always a recording of a red-tailed hawk.
Description: Brown above and pale below; streaked belly and wing underside; dark bar between shoulder and wrist; short, wide tail is usually pale below and cinnamon-red above; broad, rounded wings
- Soar in wide circles over open area
- Heavy wingbeats when flapping
- Thrilling, raspy scream
- Aggressively defend nests and territory
- Mated pairs typically stay together until one of the pair dies