Red-tailed Hawk, Buteo jamaicensis


Red-tailed Hawk
The Red-tailed Hawk is the most widespread and common of the great raptors of North America, a familiar sight perched high along roads and next to open fields scanning for the small mammals that make up most of their diet. The loud descending scream is memorable and chilling. All the pictures here show the western type, and most of them the light morph, of this quite variably plumaged species.


Red-tailed Hawk
The two pictures above and the one below show the adult, with its familiar red tail. The rufous
wash on the underparts of the flying bird below is characteristic of western adults, a small proportion
of which have dark underparts.


Red-tailed Hawk
Above and below, flying redtails showing their underparts; all birds of the species show the diagnostic patagial bar, the dark feathering on the forward edge of the inner underwing. Above, an adult, with rufous wash and a reddish tail; below a juvenile, with white background feathering underneath, and a light gray background with darker gray barring on the tail. Western redtails almost all show the band of darker streaks across the belly. Like most raptors, redtails retain their juvenal plumage through the whole first year of life.

Red-tailed Hawk
The bird above is a heavily streaked light morph bird, with the dark underpart streaking appearing as a band below a white bib. The bird below lacks the white bib, and has uniform heavy dark streaking on the underparts from throat to vent; it is an intermediate morph. A black morph would have uniformly dark plumage across the underparts. 

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk
Above, a juvenile, and below, an adult, both feeding on ground squirrels.

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk
An adult Red-tail feeding on a fresh kill, this one a bird rather than a mammal, an American Coot.

Red-tailed Hawk
An adult with still another kind of prey item, a snake.