Red-tailed Hawk

What is a red-tailed hawk?

Red-tailed hawks are actually considered raptors, just like the dinosaur. They are known as birds of prey, which means that they are predator animals that hunt for their food. Red-tailed hawks are native to the North American continent.

Red-tailed hawk appearance

Red-tailed hawks are well known and named for their red tails. The rest of the feathers on their body are brown, with a slightly lighter brown on their bellies. Red-tailed hawk beaks are quite short, black, and have a slight curve.

These hawks’ tails, like their wings, span out widely. When spread out, their wings can reach up to 4 feet long from one wingtip to the other. Female red-tailed hawks are typically slightly larger than the males, and can reach a body size of around 2 feet long.

Red-tailed Hawk


Red-tailed hawks, while typically found in North America alone, can live in many different kinds of environments. They have been spotted living in both rural and urban areas, building nests in forest trees or in high places in cities.

Taking care of offspring

Like most types of penguins, red-tailed hawks are known for finding mating partners for life. They will also use the same location to build their nests every year for laying eggs. Also like penguins, the male and female hawks will take turns warming the eggs.

There are usually around 1-3 red-tailed hawk eggs laid per season, and the mother and father will take care of the chicks, feeding them, and teaching them how to find food for themselves for around 6 to 10 weeks after hatching.

Red-tailed Hawk with Chicks


As birds of prey, red-tailed hawks will hunt small animals for their meals. They are not picky about what kinds of small animals they target for hunting, but it is more common for them to find rodents such as mice and squirrels than it is for them to find fish.

Interestingly, red-tailed hawks also find food by hunting snakes, insects, and other, smaller, birds. Like other birds of prey, red-tailed hawks hunt by dive-bombing their prey, which means that they will search out small animals from very high up, then fly down quickly to catch them.

During this dive-bombing, red-tailed hawks can fly as fast as 100 miles per hour before they catch their food in the claws on their feet, called talons. What makes them so good at catching prey is the combination of this high speed and their above average vision.

Red-tailed Hawk Appearance

Additional information

In popular movies or TV shows, when there is a sound effect of a large bird call, it is usually the call of a red-tailed hawk, because they make very loud and somewhat frightening sounds.

Fortunately for red-tailed hawks, their population is thriving, and they are not endangered or at risk. This is likely because of their ability to live in either rural or urban areas.

Red-tailed hawks can live up to 20 years in the wild, and sometimes they are seen as useful for the city environment because they can help reduce the amount of rodents in the area.