Red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

 

The red-tailed hawk is a common hawk often seen along roadways in Illinois. In flight, it often soars with few wing flaps. Large birds that flap their wings constantly while in flight are probably crows. Large soaring birds that glide with their wings in a "V" shape. not flat and level, are probably turkey vultures. Mature red-tails sport a rusty red tail. Juveniles have a banded tail. Red-tails can sometimes come in a confusing array of color variations, called morphs.

In courtship flights, males and females often lock talons together in acrobatic sky dances. They may fall together and separate only at the last minute.

The females are normally larger than the males. Pairs of red-tailed hawks mate for life.

Juvenile red-tailed hawks lack the red tail. They are also more heavily streaked underneath. Adults are mostly white underneath, with a "belly band" of dark feathers crossing the chest.
Note the "belly band" of chest feathers.
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 Quick Facts about Red-tailed hawks
 
Diet:

includes mice, rabbits, other small mammals, reptiles and birds.

 
Status:

Commonly seen in Illinois.

 
Wingspan:

3-4 feet

 
Number of young:

Lays 1-5 eggs in a nest built of sticks high in a tree.

 
For More Pictures:
Go to our page of red-tailed hawk photographs.

See our open house page for pictures of a falconry red-tailed hawk in flight .

Also see our page on the various color variations, called morphs.