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Red-tailed Hawk

Copyright Barbara Samuelson 2002


The most common North American buteo is the Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), found from Alaska to Central America. Adults (as above) have rufous tails and dark brown upperparts; the underparts vary from almost white, to rufous (below), to chocolate brown. The most significant characteristics are the dark patagial marks (area on the wings between the head and wrist) of both the juvenile and adult, and the rufous tail on the adult. The nest, of sticks, is built high up in trees. Three or four eggs are usually laid in early spring; they are dull white, often heavily marked with brown.

Rufous Morph Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk

Copyright Barbara Samuelson 2002

This juvenile rufous morph Red-tailed Hawk was banded in the Marin Headlands.


Notice how much darker the medallion (chest) feathers are on the rufous morph compared to the juvenile Red-tailed Hawk on the left and the adult on the right. The eye of the adult is darker than those of either juvenile.

   
Juvenile
 
Juvenile Rufous Morph
 
Adult

Copyright Barbara Samuelson 2001-2002


Red-tailed Hawk in flight as seen from underneath. This would be the most common view of the bird in flight.

Notice the dark patigial marks at the top of the wings on either side of the head. This is the best way to identify a raptor as a red-tailed hawk.

Copyright Barbara Samuelson 1997

The Red-tailed Hawk has a specialized tongue designed to allow it to eat and breathe simultaneously.


Copyright Barbara Samuelson 2001

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