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 Red-tailed Hawk

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SFC.Thai
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จำนวนข้อความ : 258
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Join date : 14/07/2010
Age : 46
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ตั้งหัวข้อเรื่อง: Red-tailed Hawk   Sat Mar 10, 2012 1:12 am

Red-tailed Hawk
Buteo jamaicensis

Spanish language name: Aguililla Colirroja, Gavilán Colirrojo

French language name: Buse a Queue Rousse
Other names: Redtail

Size: length from head to toe 45-55cm;
wingspan 110-141cm; mass 710-1550g

Type migrant: partial





Introduction
The Red-tailed Hawk is characterized by variability and versatility. Across its
widespread range, this species exhibits remarkable diversity in plumage, habitat use,
and hunting ecology, so much that the redtail is often described as a “jack-of-all-
trades.” The redtail is a large, stocky buteo found from central Alaska and Canada
south to Panama. Redtails are numerous migrants at many watchsites throughout
their North America range. The fact that they tend to perch and soar in open
habitats and tolerate human-dominated environments makes them one of the most
frequently observed raptors in the region. The reddish or rufous tail of adults makes
the species one of the most easily recognized raptors.

Red-tailed Hawks have adapted to human landscapes with isolated trees or small
woodlots that provide nest sites and elevated perches for hunting, and their numbers
have increased in North America in recent years. Human actions that have benefited
the Red-tailed Hawk in the eastern United States include forest thinning and the
construction of the Interstate Highway System, both of which have created prime
hunting areas. In the American West, fire suppression and power lines provide
additional perches for hunting.

Red-tailed Hawks also have benefited from protection from human persecution. As
recently as the middle of the 20th Century, the species was blamed for losses of
poultry and was labeled the “chicken hawk.” As a result, redtails were commonly
shot. The Red-tailed Hawk’s propensity to perch in the open made it particularly
vulnerable to persecution.

Identification
The Red-tailed Hawk, one of the largest open-habitat raptors in North America,
exemplifies the classic “buteo” configuration. It has a chunky body, broad wings,
and a tail that is often spread or fanned in flight. The Red-tailed Hawk’s round-
tipped wings and bulging secondary feathers make the species appear “muscular” in
flight. When soaring, redtails typically hold their wings in a slight dihedral or shallow
“V.” In North America, the redtail together with the Ferruginous Hawk and the
Rough-legged Hawk, are the only buteos that regularly “kite” while facing into the
wind with their wings set.

The species varies in plumage across its range. Distinct differences exist between
age groups, and among color morphs, and races. Individual redtails range from
brown to black on their upperparts, and white to black underneath. The tail, which
can be solid rufous, or is banded brown, is sometimes streaked or spotted. Adults
typically have a reddish or rufous tail with a narrow, dark band at the tip. Compared

with adults, juveniles have narrower wings and longer tails that are brownish with
seven to nine dark brown bands of equal width. Dark morphs, which are common in
the American West, are rare in the eastern United States. Adult light morphs have a
dark brown head, back, and upperwing coverts. The underparts are pale cream or
whitish with dark markings that often form a belly band. The underwings are pale
with dark, rectangular patagial marks.

Breeding Habits
During the breeding season, soaring flight plays a major role in helping individuals
establish and maintain nesting territories. When soaring, redtails can survey their
territory and locate intruders. Migrants begin their aerial courtship displays in late
winter and early spring. Sedentary birds (which remain paired throughout the year)
engage in aerial displays throughout the year although most displays take place in
early spring. During such breeding displays, pairs soar together in wide circles at
high altitudes, and males often engage in steep dives and subsequent ascents.
Males typically fly above and slightly behind the female, and sometimes the two
interlock talons and spiral toward the ground.

Pairs either build a new nest or refurbish an old nest. Nests are constructed of two
to three foot long branches that are usually less than half an inch thick. Both the
male and female take part in nest building. When building their nests, redtails are
secretive, and if disturbed, may abandon the site. Nest sites vary depending on
available habitat, but in general they are open from above, and have a good view of
the surrounding landscape. In forested areas, redtails usually choose to nest close
to the trunk or near the tops of trees. Some individuals nest on cliffs and human
constructions such as powerline towers.

Redtails lay a total of one to five eggs with roughly 48-hour intervals between eggs.
The incubation period is 28 to 35 day begins shortly after the first egg is laid. The
female does most of the incubation, and during this period the male feeds her. After
the eggs hatch, the female broods the nestlings for 30 to 35 days, and the male
continues to provide most of the food. Although both parents will bring prey back to
the nest, only the female feeds the chicks. The young fledge at 44 to 46 days of
age, and the parents continue to feed their fledglings for another four to seven
weeks. During this time, the young gradually move farther from the nest, improve
their flight abilities, and begin to hunt on their own. Some individuals remain with
their parents for as long as six months after fledging.

Feeding Habits
Red-tailed Hawks are generalist predators that typically prey on small to medium
sized reptiles, birds, and mammals up to the size of jackrabbits. Most concentrate
their hunting efforts on species that are abundant and easily caught. As a result,
redtail diets differ among regions, and across seasons, as well as among individuals.
Most prey is taken back to a feeding perch where it is beheaded before it is
consumed. Birds, even small birds, are usually plucked of their feathers, but small
mammals are often swallowed whole. Redtails frequently feed on carrion, including
roadkills.

Although Red-tailed Hawks are commonly seen soaring, they are primarily perch-
hunters, and only infrequently hunt from soaring, kiting, or powered flight. Elevated
perch sites appear to be a necessary component of suitable hunting habitat. A study
in Arkansas indicated that Red-tailed Hawks preferred to hunt in areas with perches
even though many of these areas had lower prey density than more open areas.

Conservation Status
The current “world” population of this species is believed to be approximately
500,000 to one million birds.




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