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Red-tailed Hawk, Bulky Bird

Dark head, light bib, shaped like a football!

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 feast on the abundant populations of rodents and wintering shorebirds.

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Full Transcript



Red-tailed Hawk, Bulky Bird

Written by Frances Wood

This is BirdNote!
[“Keeeerrr” sound of Red-Tailed Hawk]
If you hear this sound coming down from the heavens, look up! You’ll see a hawk soaring in a wide circle, eyeing the landscape — including you. This one’s a Red-tailed Hawk. [“Keeeerrr” sound of Red-Tailed Hawk]
These hawks often perch on fence posts or telephone poles in rural areas, or atop lights along the highway. Watch for a large, football-shaped bird with a small, dark head and a rusty-red tail. Immature Red-tails and some adult birds don’t actually have a red tail, so it helps to learn to recognize their size and shape.
Once you’re familiar with the sound of the Red-tail [“Keeeerrr” sound of Red-Tailed Hawk], you’ll discover how often movie-makers get it wrong. On the screen, you may see a Bald Eagle, but what you hear is often the call of a Red-tail.
[“Keeeerrr” sound of Red-Tailed Hawk]
Red-tailed Hawks visit open fields, roadsides, and highway medians to feast on voles, rabbits, and other small mammals. They’re here all year. But you’re most likely to see them in winter, when the birds that breed further north join the residents.
[“Keeeerrr” sound of Red-Tailed Hawk]
Next time you’re driving in the country, watch for a bulky, football-shaped bird. And you just might hear this sound wafting down from on high.
[“Keeeerrr” sound of Red-Tailed Hawk]
No matter how large or small your gift might be, your donation to BirdNote makes this show possible. Learn more at I’m Michael Stein.
Call of Red-tailed Hawk provided by: The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York.
Sound recordist: L.J. Peyton
Producer: John Kessler Executive Producer: Chris Peterson  © 2010 Tune In to March 2010

ID # orig 032905RTHAKPLU         RTHA-01b                    

Preston, C. R. and R. D. Beane. 2009. Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online:


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