Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

Grace arrived at the Medina Raptor Center in 2014 as a first year bird with a wing injury due to being hit by a car. During the healing process, part of the joint fused so that she could not get full extension on the wing, inhibiting her ability to get significant height or sustained flight. She had a wonderful disposition around people, so she was added to the permit to become an educational ambassador for the Center.




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.”