The red-tailed hawk, aka the chicken hawk, is a raptor that is comfortable making their home anywhere from scrublands, deserts, roadsides, grasslands, fields, pastures, to parks, and even in tropical rain forests. They are very adaptable and can be found from Alaska all the way down to Central America. As such, these are the widest spread raptors in the Americas. These fascinating birds are highly regarded by Native Americans throughout the Americas. They are often thought of as sacred and have that they have attachments to the spirit world.
First the Stats…
Scientific name: Buteo jamaicensis
Weight: Up to 2.4 lbs.
Length: Up to 26 inches
Wingspan: Up to 4.8 feet
Lifespan: Up to 20 years
Now on to the Facts!
1.) Their eyesight is so keen that they’re able to spot a small mouse up to 100 feet away.
2.) Red-tailed hawks are very beneficial to the ecosystem as they help control the populations of rats, mice, moles, and rabbits.
3.) These hawks have what is known as a crop. This is a small pouch, or storage area, located between their throats and their stomachs. This crop stores food and releases small amounts to the hawk over a period of time. If a large meal is eaten, they can go for up to 2 days without a meal.
4.) They prey on rats, voles, ground squirrels, rabbits, a variety of birds as large as a pheasant, bats, reptiles, (primarily snakes), amphibians, insects, and it is presumed that they also feed on carrion in lean times.
But wait, there’s more on the red-tailed hawk!
6.) Red-tails are known for stealing prey from other raptors.
7.) The cry of a red-tailed hawk is quite often used in film and tv to represent a deserted scene or approaching raptor.
Did you know…?
A red-tailed hawk can dive at speeds of up to 121 mph!
8.) Federal and state laws prohibit the public from owning, capturing, and especially killing red tailed hawks. Due to these laws they are listed as Least Concern by the IUCN.
9.) They are monogamous (mate for life).
10.) Females and males incubate the eggs that number between 1 – 4.