Fun Red-tailed Hawk Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Oct 20, 2022 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Smriti Chaudhary
Red-tailed hawk facts tell us about their nesting habits.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.4 Min

The red-tailed hawk is one of the most common hawks found in North America. Now first you should definitely know these facts so that you recognize them if you see them. The red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) is a gorgeous species of bird that has 14 different subspecies under them. The red to brown colored tail that the bird species has is the most distinguishable. Their habitat includes open fields and forested areas. Red-tailed hawks eat all kinds of small to medium-sized mammals. Their food also includes reptiles and smaller birds. The young ones stay with their parents for a while and they stay in a family of sorts in that time. Even after the hatchlings leave, the pairs still stay together, as the birds are monogamous. The eggs and hatchlings many times fall prey to great horned owls and crows. They can be seen nesting high up the trees and the nests can be pretty large in size.

Read on to know more about red-tailed hawks, and if you like this article, then check out the Hawaiian hawk and the house wren.

Red-Tailed Hawk Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Red-Tailed Hawk?

The red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) is a kind of bird. There are 14 subspecies under this species of bird.

What class of animal does the Red-Tailed Hawk belong to?

The red-tailed hawk belongs to class Aves of animals.

How many Red-Tailed Hawks are there in the world?

The exact number for the population of these birds is not known. However, we know that their population has increased over the last 40 years in North America.

Where does a Red-Tailed Hawk live?

Red-tailed hawks can only be found in the Nearctic regions. The red-tailed hawk in North America is the most common. They also live in Central America, like in Mexico, the United States, and Canada. A part of the bird's population stays in their habitat for the entire year but the ones that live in the far north migrate to the south before the winter.

What is a Red-Tailed Hawk habitat?

The red-tailed hawk lives in many different habitats. They can be found in plains, tropical rainforests, scrub deserts, pastures, agricultural fields, parks in city areas, and deciduous and coniferous forests. They can mainly be seen around open areas or at the places where forests meet grasslands.

Who do Red-Tailed Hawks live with?

These North American birds usually stay in pairs. The adult pairs stay together for many years. They can be seen flying around their territory defending it from outsiders.

How long does a Red-Tailed Hawk live?

Red-tailed hawks have a low mortality rate among the young ones, but the birds that live through that phase, the adult ones can live on for many more years. The longest living red-tailed hawk was 21.5 years of age and the ones in captivity can live as long as 29.5 years of age.

How do they reproduce?

These North American birds reach their sexual maturity at three years of age. They are monogamous birds and mostly stay with their partners for life. The courtship ritual includes these birds flying up in the sky encircling each other for 10 or more minutes. After copulation, the adult female birds lay up to five eggs. Both the male and female birds incubate the eggs for the next 28-35 days. After hatching the adult males mostly provide the food for the female and the hatchlings. The hatchlings leave the nest after about 42-46 days.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the red-tailed Hawks, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List, is listed as of Least Concern. Their population trend is also increasing, so no action is being taken at this moment to conserve these birds.

How does a Red-Tailed Hawk call sound like?

The calls of the adult birds sound like a rough 'kee-eee-ar', which sounds a lot like a steam whistle.

What is the wingspan of a Red-Tailed Hawk?

The average wingspan of the adult red-tailed hawk is about 48 in or 122 cm. The wingspan of the females is larger than the males.

What is the natural enemy of a Red-Tailed Hawk to use as a decoy?

Red-tailed hawks are large birds that don't have that many predators. Mostly the natural enemies they face are the ones that come after their eggs or when they are hatchlings. The hatchlings and the eggs fall prey to great horned owls and crows.

Red-Tailed Hawk Fun Facts

Where is the Red-Tiled Hawk native to?

Among the species, the 14 species are named according to the places in which they live. Such as, the Jamaican red-tailed hawk is native to northern West Indies, the Tres Marias red-tailed hawk is native to the Islas Marías of Mexico, and the Central American red-tailed hawk is native to Panama and Nicaragua, and more species are endemic to specific places of North America and they are named according to that.

What does Red-Tailed Hawk look like?

Red-tailed hawks are one of the most common hawks in North America.

These are large-sized birds, and the females are even larger than the males. The color of their upper body including their tail and upper part of their wings varies from lighter shades of red to deeper brown. Their underbelly including underparts of their wings are of whitish shade and they have dark-colored markings on their underbelly shaping up to a band. Their feet and legs are yellow.

How cute are they?

Some might consider these birds cute, and some might be scared due to their large size, but one thing we can say surely is that red-tailed hawks are gorgeous.

How do they communicate?

Red-tailed hawks communicate visually and vocally. Their eyesight is tremendous, so they can sense both prey and predators easily. They also pose and move in a number of ways which they show as territorial or courtship displays.

The young ones make a low and soft 'peep' sound of hunger, which roughs up with their age and becomes a deep 'kee-eee-ar' sound in adults.

How big is a Red-Tailed Hawk?

Adult red-tailed hawks can grow up to 17.7-25.6 in (45-65 cm). They are 5.5 times bigger than a hummingbird, which is only 3.9 in (10 cm) in size.

How fast can a Red-Tailed Hawk Fly?

When flying in the sky, the speed of these birds is around 20-40 mph (32-64 kph), but when they are diving, the speed may be up to 120 mph (190 kph).

How much does a Red-Tailed Hawk weigh?

Adult red-tailed hawks weigh about 28-43 oz (0.8-1.2 kg). This range of weight differs in accordance with the geographical location, season, and sex of the birds.

What are their male and female names of the species?

The males of the species are called cocks and females are called hens.

What would you call a Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk?

A young red-tailed hawk would be called a hatchling, nestling, or chick.

What do they eat?

Red-tailed hawks eat mammals, from small-sized rodents to big-sized and rabbits. Their food also includes reptiles and other smaller birds, like male red-winged blackbirds. They also might prey on and eat a cat or kill a small-sized dog if they see one.

Are they poisonous?

No, these North American birds are not poisonous.

Would they make a good pet?

Red-tailed hawks are wild birds. They can be kept as pets but you would need a license for that and need to learn how to keep them from another falconer because these birds need a very specific environment to survive.

Did you know...

According to Native Americans, seeing red-tailed hawks mean that you should clear your head.

Some red-tailed hawks can carry 5 lb (2 kg) of weight.

The red-tailed hawk has a red tail. This tail is the reason they have such a name.

What does a Red-tailed Hawk nest look like?

The birds make their nest about 13-69 ft (4-21 m) from the ground and the nests can be 28-38 in (71-96.5 cm) in diameter and 3 ft (91.4 cm) tall. They build it with twigs and line it up with corn, husks, bark, stalks, and more plant matters. They keep adding twigs and bark to keep the nests fresh as they use the same nest for years.

What does a Red-tailed Hawk feather look like?

Their feathers have brown to red-colored stripes. They can be lighter in color on the inner side as they grow darker on the outer side.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including the sparrowhawk and the little blue heron.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our Red-tailed Hawk coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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