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Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

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Red-tailed Hawks Take the Bus

Travel into Seattle from Sea-Tac airport, and you might share the shuttle with a Red-tailed Hawk! To protect planes, passengers and birds, airport biologists Steve Osmek and Bud Anderson are capturing and relocating raptors. They band and wing-tag the hawks, then release them in the Skagit Valley... read more »

Topics & Themes:  environmental champion

Raptor Breeding

It's April, but Great Horned Owls have been busy at their nests for two months. Golden Eagles are on their nests as early as the beginning of March. And Red-tailed Hawks (like this one) begin early, too. Why do these birds of prey nest so early? It takes a long time to raise a baby hawk or owl to... read more »

Topics & Themes:  nesting

Hawkwatch - Chelan Ridge

You're at 5000 feet in the Cascade Mountains. Overhead, a Red-tailed Hawk catches an updraft. The Chelan Ridge Raptor Migration site is the best location in Washington State to see migrating raptors. The U.S. Forest Service and HawkWatch International are partners in a large network of North... read more »

Topics & Themes:  migration, science

Another BirdNote Quiz

This quiz features - an American Robin ...- an Olive-sided Flycatcher, like this one ... - a Red-tailed Hawk ...- a Steller's Jay, which you're most likely to hear west of the Rockies ... - and a Blue Jay, usually seen east of the Rockies. read more »

Topics & Themes:  birdwatching

Red-tailed Hawk, Bulky Bird

The Red-tailed Hawk is the most common and widespread hawk in North America. Red-tails often perch on fence posts in rural areas or even atop lights along the roadway. Watch for a large, bulky, football-shaped bird with a small dark head and a rusty-red tail. These hawks visit open fields to... read more »


Freeway Hawks

Driving the freeway or a narrow country road, you may glance up at a light pole where a large hawk sits in plain view. If it's brown and somewhat mottled, and its small head and short tail make it appear football-shaped, it's probably a Red-tailed Hawk. During winter, many Red-tailed Hawks move... read more »


Soaring with Redtails

A Red-tailed Hawk soars on broad, rounded wings, the epitome of effortless flight. Without flapping, it traces a leisurely, rising circle. The hawk is riding a thermal, a column of warm rising air generated near the earth's surface by heat from the sun. The Red-tail periodically circles to stay... read more »

Topics & Themes:  flight

Honeybees and Red-tails

BirdNote writer, Todd Peterson, is also a beekeeper. His spring and summer labors in the apiary have long been accompanied by the cry of Red-tailed Hawks that nest in the woods nearby. If it survives its first two years, a Red-tailed Hawk can live from 10 to 15 years. Red-tails and other birds... read more »

Topics & Themes:  nesting

Bird's Eye View I

From its lofty outlook, this Red-tailed Hawk commands "a bird's eye view." The Oxford English Dictionary defines that as "a view of a landscape from above, such as is presented to the eye of a bird." Debate continues about birds' visual acuity, but we do know that visual acuity is keenest among... read more »

Topics & Themes:  music

Bird's Eye View II

Some birds, like this Red-tailed Hawk, possess amazingly highly developed eyesight. Just what makes birds' eyes so special, their eyesight so remarkable? It has to do with the muscles that give them an astonishing ability to focus and to change focus. Birds have muscles that carry out both jobs,... read more »

Topics & Themes:  science

Red-tails and Airports

To protect passengers, planes, and birds at Seattle’s Sea-Tac airport, biologists Bud Anderson of the Falcon Research Group and Steve Osmek capture, relocate, and monitor Red-tailed Hawks. The birds are banded, wing-tagged, and released 80 miles north. Bud says, “Almost none of them come back to... read more »

Topics & Themes:  science

Pale Male

2014: In New York City's Central Park, you can see the country's most famous Red-tailed Hawk. He's named Pale Male because of his unusually light coloring. And he has a multi-million-dollar view from his nest on a co-op building above Fifth Avenue. Pale Male first set up housekeeping in this high... read more »


Riding with Red-tails

Traveling home after a flight into Seattle’s Sea-Tac airport, you might share a ride on the shuttle with a Red-tailed Hawk! To protect passengers, planes, and birds, airport biologists Steve Osmek and Bud Anderson capture raptors for relocation away from the airport. Then, as a public service,... read more »

Topics & Themes:  environmental champion

Highways as Habitat for Hawks

In 1956, the Eisenhower Administration announced plans for the nation’s new interstate highway system. Planners foresaw 41,000 miles of superior highways, with a grassy border on either side and down the middle. The grassy areas created ribbons of wildlife habitat occupied by small mammals such... read more »

Topics & Themes:  ecology, human interaction

Birds of Prey and Nesting Territories

Red-tailed Hawks typically have a nesting territory of about a half-mile to a full square mile, depending on how much food there is. Bald Eagles’ nesting territories range from 2½ square miles to as much as 15 square miles, for the same reason. But the Gyrfalcons in Finland and Scandinavia really... read more »