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A Young Red-tailed Hawk

For several days in Oct of 2016,  a young Red-tailed Hawk visited the Knoch Knolls Nature Center, sitting on various signs around the nature center and the mill sculpture and even perching on the deck. A group of scouts even saw the hawk on a picnic table in the upper grove. For awhile the hawk seemed comfortable living around here and we really enjoy seeing it!

Red-tailed hawks are our most common and wide spread hawk. They are found throughout North America, including Canada, Alaska and Mexico. They belong to the family Accipitridae, which is one of the largest bird groups. It includes many of the daytime, or diurnal, birds of prey including eagles, kites, osprey, hawks, and harriers. The Nature Center’s hawk’s scientific name is Buteo jamaicensis.  Buteos are defined as a robust bodied, short tailed hawk with long wings for hunting over open habitat.  Buteos soar over a large part of their hunting territory. Their wings allow for the efficient use of warm thermals and updrafts. They often will perch and hunt in a conspicuous place watching and waiting for prey.  This is the case of the Red-Tailed Hawk who was “hanging around” the nature center.

In the first year of our young hawk’s life, it will sport a brown tail. Eventually, the feathers will be replaced by the gorgeous, yet classic red tail.  Other than the tail, adults and juvenile Red-tails are virtually alike. Their backs are brown and they show a belly band of dark streaking.  They are about two feet tall with a wingspan of 4 ½ to 5 feet. Females are generally larger than males, and despite being a large bird of prey Red-tailed hawks only weigh about 3 pounds. Their diet consists mainly of small mammals: mice, voles, rabbits, and chipmunks. “Our” young hawk was perfecting its hunting skills and hopefully catching plenty to eat.

Eventually this hawk left the area and we didn't get to see it mature and gain its signature red tail.  

To learn more about Red-tailed Hawks visit https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Red-tailed_Hawk/id