Let us discover some of the most interesting red tailed hawk facts for kids including red tailed hawk habitat, diet, reproduction and species. Soaring in steady circles in the sky leaving red tail shinning or perched on a telephone pole deliberately scanning the ground, the red tailed hawk is the most common best-recognized hawk in the state.
The red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) is a large bird of prey that is endemic to North America. They are the most common hawks all throughout the North America.
Red tailed hawks are also found in the Central America and West Indies. They are also esteemed as the first hawks to be undertaken for scientific studies across West Indies. Red tailed hawk is also known as ‘Chickenhawk’ in United States although it occasionally preys on chickens.
The breeding range of these hawks extends to the western Alaska, south as Panama, West Indies, and North America. There are around 14 recognized species of red tailed hawks.
They normally weigh around 690 – 1600 g (1.5 – 3.5 pounds), with the length measuring at 45 – 65 cm (18 – 26 inches). As in other raptors, females are fairly larger as compared to males.
Red tailed hawks have a variety of habitats ranging from grasslands, tropical rainforests, deserts, deciduous forests, agricultural fields, and coniferous forests. These birds of prey are legally protected in Mexico, United States, and Canada under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
Red Tailed Hawk Facts For Kids
- The weight of the male red-tailed hawk measures around 690 – 1300 grams (1.5 – 2.9 lb), with the average weight measuring at 1,030 grams (2.3 lb). The length of the male is around 45 – 60 cm (18 – 24 inches).
- The weight of the female hawk measures is up to 900 – 2000 grams (2 – 4.4 lb), with the mean weight measuring at 1,220 grams (2.7 lb). The female measures 48 – 65 cm (19 – 26 inches) in length.
- Red tailed hawks have a wingspan measuring at 105 – 141 cm (41 – 56 inches), with the bone size measuring at 33 – 44 cm (13 – 17 inches) in length. The length of the tail measures around 19 – 25 cm (7.5 – 9.8 inches).
- The hawk’s tarsus measures up to 8.6 – 9 cm (3.4 – 3.5 inches). As in other birds of prey, the females are 25% larger in comparison to the males.
- The red-tailed hawk displays a consistent appearance. On the whole, they are broader in shape and are often appearing to be heavier than other Buteos of the same length. It has a dark brown stripe that runs across its belly and is developed by the flat streaks in feather patterning.
- These birds of prey have a short and dark bill and are characterized by their yellow feet. The head is often appeared to be thick as compared to its bulky body. As the hawk approaches its maturity age after 3 – 4 years, the iris changes to a reddish-brown hue.
- The red tailed hawk tends to conserve energy while flying by flapping as little as possible. The active flight is slow and premeditated. They are often seen stationery above the ground as hawks do not consistently beat their wings. The red tailed hawk travels 20 – 40 mph (64 km/h), and the diving may exceed 120 mph (190 km/h).
- These species are often observes to vocalize whilst hunting or soaring; however, the loud vocals necessarily mean to repel potential predators or in reply to a rival hawk’s intrusion into its territory.
- One of the subspecies borealis kriderii is known to make its nests all throughout the state. This is the permanent inhabitants of southern Iowa. These species preferably resides in the plain regions. Calurus, on the other hand, was found in dispersed locations. According to the North American Breeding Bird Survey (1966 – 87), the population of these species considerably increased in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Minnesota, and Ohio. Of all buteos, the red tailed hawks are primarily responsible for decreasing the size of woodlands.
- The red tailed hawk is one of the most common hawks across North America. They are also known to breed on Yukon, Northwest Territories, southern Quebec, provinces of Canada, south as Florida, central Alaska, and the West Indies.
- In winter, these birds are usually found in the southern Canada. They are known to perch on mixed and deciduous forests. Red tailed hawks inhabits along the variety of natural habitats ranging from high bluffs to the open grasslands.
- Red tailed hawks inhabit all throughout the range of deciduous woodlands, mountains, foothills of mountains, tropical rainforests, coniferous forests, grasslands, agricultural fields, deserts, and urban areas.
- It comes after the peregrine falcon in occupying diverse habitats across North America. These birds of prey are not found in the high arctic or unbroken forests.
Feeding Ecology and Diet
- The red tailed hawks being carnivorous are considered to be opportunistic feeders. They primarily hunt small mammals as well as birds and reptiles.
- The prey is largely determined by the seasonal availability but often includes rodents that make almost 85% of the red tailed hawks diet.
- Other prey species include mice voles, ground squirrels, tree squirrels, gophers, and house mice.
- Red-tailed hawks also prey on shrews, waterfowls, corvids, quail, bats, lagomorphs, fish, raptors, insects, pigeons, crustaceans, reptiles, and earthworms. They are often seen to hunt on snakes and lizards, along with the beetles and worms.
- They also supplement their diet with small domestic dogs, marmots, white-tailed rabbits, wild turkey, and domestic cats, all being heavier than the hawk. In winter, red tailed hawks will consume as much as 135 grams (4 – 5 oz) each day.
- These birds of prey often employ more than one hunting techniques. Normally, they scan its prey from an elevated perch site and once the prey is identified, the bird then swoops down from the perch to take hold of it.
- Red tailed hawks also believe in hunting in pairs. These species often comes into conflict with the great horned owls as both occupy the same ecological niche.
- Some of the other competitors of red tailed hawks include Northern Goshawk, Rough-legged Hawks, and Swainson’s Hawks.
- The red tailed hawk reaches the maturity age after two years. They are monogamous birds as they don’t often change their mates unless the partner dies.
- These birds of prey build their nests in lofty trees that are at least 4 – 21 meters (13 – 69 ft) off the ground and some 35 meters (115 ft) high above the ground.
- The diameter of a nest measures around 71 – 97 cm (28 – 38 inches), with the length measuring at 90 cm (3 feet). The materials that are normally used in making nests include pine needles, corn cobs, twigs, aspen catkins, and other plants matter.
- The clutch size comprises 1 – 3 eggs. Depends solely on the latitude, eggs are usually laid in the months of March or April. The eggs measure around 60 x 47 mm (2.4 x 1.9 in) and are incubated largely by the female.
- The hatching period prolongs to 28 – 35 days. The young fledges out after a period of 42 – 46 days. About 1.5 – 2 months after fledging, the young begin to hunt of their own. They will completely independent after 4 months of age.
- The average lifespan is 21 years, with some species have managed to live up to 29 years in captivity.
- B. j. jamaicensis
- B. j. alascensis
- B. j. borealis
- B. j. calurus
- B. j. costaricensis
- B. j. fuertesi
- B. j. fumosus
- B. j. hadropus
- B. j. harlani
- B. j. kemsiesi
- B. j. socorroensis
- B. j. solitudinus
- B. j. umbrinus
- B. j. kriderii