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What is a Red-tailed Hawk

Discover the majestic Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), a symbol of strength and agility in the avian world. Renowned for its striking red tail and powerful flight, this bird of prey occupies diverse habitats. Our guide delves into its characteristics, lifestyle, and particularly its presence in the Southwest U.S.

Red-tailed Hawk Overview

The Red-tailed Hawk is a large bird of prey known for its keen eyesight and hunting prowess. It’s one of the most common hawks in North America, easily recognizable by its reddish-brown tail.


  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Accipitriformes
  • Family: Accipitridae
  • Genus: Buteo
  • Species: B. jamaicensis

Size and Body Description

Red-tailed Hawks are large, with a wingspan of about 4 to 4.8 feet. They weigh between 1.5 to 3.5 pounds. Their plumage is mainly brown on the top and pale underneath, with a characteristic red tail.


Wingspan: 4 to 4.8 feet


These hawks breed once a year. They build large nests in high places like trees or cliffs. Females lay 1 to 3 eggs, which hatch after about a month.


Red-tailed Hawks are carnivorous, feeding primarily on small mammals, birds, and reptiles. They are skilled hunters, often seen soaring or perched in open areas scanning for prey.

How Long Do Red-tailed Hawks Live

In the wild, they can live up to 20 years, though average lifespans are generally lower due to various factors like predation and habitat loss.

Where Found

Widely distributed across North America.

Habitat and Range

Red-tailed Hawks inhabit a variety of environments, from deserts and grasslands to forests and urban areas. In the Southwest U.S., they are often found in desert landscapes, adapting to the arid conditions and utilizing the open terrain for hunting.


These hawks are not currently considered endangered or vulnerable. Conservation efforts mainly focus on habitat preservation and reducing human-related threats.

To sum up, the Red-tailed Hawk stands as a testament to the adaptability and resilience of nature. With its wide range and diverse habitats, especially in the Southwest U.S., it plays a crucial role in the ecological balance, reminding us of the importance of conserving natural habitats for these majestic birds