Cloud-Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk (leucistic) (Buteo jamaicensis)

Cloud was admitted to the Medina Raptor Center in December 2005 as a young adult after he had been hit by a freight train in Cleveland. He had sustained severe head trauma and injury to his left radius/ulna that required part of his wing to be amputated. These injuries not only left him unable to fly but also impaired his vision. He is also leucistic,  a genetic variation where pigment is produced by the animal, but does not deposit on the feathers. He now resides at the Medina Raptor Center as a unique ambassador to his species.


About Red-tailed Hawks

(Information taken from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology)

The most common and widespread hawk in North America, the Red-tailed Hawk is a bird of open country. It is frequently seen sitting on utility poles where it watches for rodents in the grass along the roadside.


  • Large hawk.
  • Wings long and broad.
  • Tail broad and red.
  • Most commonly with pale chest and dark band across belly.
  • Size: 45-65 cm (18-26 in)
  • Wingspan: 114-133 cm (45-52 in)
  • Weight: 690-1460 g (24.36-51.54 ounces)
  • Extremely variable in appearance with light and dark forms.
  • Tail reddish on top, with dark band near end.
  • Tail lighter red below; unbanded.
  • Light forms: Head darkish brown. Throat dark or white. Chest white or with rusty streaks. Dark band of streaks across belly variable, from very dark to nearly absent. Dark patches at leading edge of wing, and dark trailing edge. Back dark brown with white mottling; white forming loose “V” on shoulders. May show pale eyestripe.
  • Dark form: Dark brown all over. May be rufous on chest. Tail red on top. In flight, front of wings dark, flight feathers pale, with dark trailing edge.
  • “Harlan’s Hawk” is a dark form without red on tail.

Sex Differences

Sexes look alike; female larger


Juvenile similar to adult, but more streaked, and has brown tail with several dark bars across it.


Small and medium-sized mammals, birds, reptiles


Summer Range:

Breeds from Alaska to Labrador, southward to Mexico and the Caribbean, down to Panama.

Winter Range:

Winters from southern Canada southward.


Found in open areas with scattered elevated perches, including agricultural areas, fields, pasture, parkland, broken woodland, and scrub desert.



Sit-and-wait predator, usually watching from elevated perch. Also hovers in strong wind.


Nest Type:

Large bowl of sticks in tall tree or on cliff ledge. Lined with bark, green twigs, and other items.

Egg Description:

White, marked with brown blotches

Clutch Size:

1-5 eggs

Condition at Hatching:

Helpless and covered with white down

Conservation Status

Populations increasing in much of North America, apparently in response to the widespread establishment of open, wooded parkland in place of grassland or dense forest.


Call a raspy, scraping, screamed “kree-eee-ar.”