Sunday, September 18, 2011

Red-tailed Hawk

Buteo jamaicensis
If you live in North or Central America, today's bird might be a familiar sight. The Red-tailed hawk is one of the most widespread raptors on the Continent, and has adapted to live in just about every type of open habitat there is. They are commonly seen perched up on telephone poles and other high objects, so that they can scan downwards for prey. There are fourteen separate subspecies of the Hawk, spreading from Alaska to Panama to the Caribbean Islands.

Red-tailed Hawks  are monogamous and mate for life. During the courting process males will do steep swoops downward before pulling up and flying up just as fast. Once a few of these circuits have been completed they approach the females. Oftentimes the pair will then clasp talons and down a downward plummet before separating just above ground.

After choosing to pair up both partners will help to construct the nest, which can be 6.5ft (2m) tall! It's no wonder that they often use the same nest year after year, after putting in such a huge effort the first time!
Red-tailed Hawk perching

Red-tailed Hawks are opportunistic feeders, though about 80-90% of the diet is made up of rodents. They either wait from perches or soar slowly to locate prey with their incredible eyesight, (it's about 8 times greater than ours) and they they swoop down and snatch up their meal using strong, curved talons.

Red-tailed Hawks are incredibly common, and are not under any conservation risk. Their abundance makes them very popular in Falconry, and they are also considered to be very cooperative and easy to train.

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : North and Central America
Size : Length up to 22in (56cm), Wingspan 50in (127cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Falconiformes
Family : Accipitridae -- Genus : Buteo -- Species : B. jamaicensis

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