Red-tailed Hawk 

Order: Falconiformes
Family: Accipitridae
Genus: Buteo
Species: jamaicensis

Gr. phalkon  falcon
La. falcula, falcis  small sickle
     (a reference to its talons)
La. forma  form, shape, kind
La. accipere  to grasp, take
La. accipiter  hawk
La. buteo  buzzard
La. jamaicensis  for the Island
     of Jamaica

Red-tailed Hawk, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, Birds of America, 1917

Louis Agassiz Fuertes

Red-tailed Hawks are the largest of the common American hawks, almost two feet long with a four foot wing span.

Brown crown, cheeks, and shoulders. Distinctive rusty red, broad, barred tail tipped with white and a narrow black band near its end. Buff white underparts with heavy brown markings across the lower breast and on the flanks.

Inhabits forests and groves in most of Canada and Alaska as far north as there are trees, throughout the lower 48 states, Central America and some Caribbean Islands. Northern hawks migrate short distances.

USGS Red-tailed Hawk Map

Builds a nest high in trees, often more than 50 feet high, out of rather large sticks lined with smaller twigs, strips of bark, and its own feathers and sometimes used for many years.

Lays two or three, sometimes four dull white irregularly marked eggs which hatch into helpless downy covered young after about four weeks incubation. 

Soars high overhead in great spirals searching for prey occasionally emitting a weak distant high pitched whistle.   Suddenly lifting its wings above its back it shoots earthward like a meteor slowing with its outstretched wings in the last second before gripping its prey with talons.

Red-tailed Hawk, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, Birds of America, 1917

Louis Agassiz Fuertes

Eats mice, rabbits, gophers and other small mammals, birds, reptiles, insects and crayfish.
They grow quite large, as large as the adults, before they fly out of the nest. 
Hawk Nest

In good seasons when flora thrive, so do rodents, and so then do hawks and owls. There can be very high populations of predators and competition for space can make birds desperate.

Their nests are usually near the tops of trees in forests near clearings, and groves in open country where they can observe broad areas from a high perch.

Bounties were paid for these hawks years ago because of their appetite for poultry and game birds gave them a nuisance reputation.

Now however, the value of a bird that eats so many rodents in addition to the value of its place in the ecosystem is recognized and the Red-tail and other hawks as well as other migratory birds are protected.

Print free woodworking plans of a Square Platform 2 feet on each side (recommended by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), same as for the Great Horned Owl. 

Mount 14' or higher on a sturdy post or structure on a forest edge or in a clearing adjacent to the tree line. High mounts should only be installed by professionals.
The chances of attracting a hawk to a platform are probably slim in most places.   However, some Red-tails become accustomed to civilization as they can be seen along most any road or highway perched on highline poles or soaring above moving farm machinery searching for frightened rodents.  2' x 2' Nesting Platform for Red-tailed Hawks and Great Horned Owls

A properly positioned platform at the right isolated ranch on a high pole or an old abandoned windmill might attract an inexperienced young hawk looking for an easy fix.


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