This week's "Bird of the Week" is the Red-tailed hawk. The Red-tailed hawk is the most common and widespread hawk in North America. It is a bird of open country, but also frequents woodlots and suburban backyards. It is frequently seen sitting on utility poles where it watches for rodents in the grass along the roadside.
This large hawk has long and broad wings. It's wing span is between 45 - 52 inches. That's 4 1/2 feet! The tail is broad and red and most commonly has a pale chest and dark band across it's belly.
The Red-tailed hawk is a sit-and-wait predator, usually watching from elevated perch and then flying down to capture small and medium-sized mammals, birds, and reptiles. It will take young birds and squirrels out of their nests sometimes.
Around here, the Red-tailed hawks' nest is a large bowl of sticks in tall tree. You may also see their nest atop of a utility (light) pole along the highway.
While many eastern Red-tailed hawks migrate, there is a sizable number that live around here year-round. These photos were taken in October, 2009 right outside my classroom window! This hawk caught and ate a Gray squirrel.
Photos by Mr. Williams