Red-tailed Hawk

RED-TAILED

HAWK

Buteo jamaicensis

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DESCRIPTION

The colors of my plumage vary in relation to the region in which I live, but once I reach adulthood you’ll recognize me easily by the way I soar and by the strikingly red upper surface of my tail. Beware however, you’ll need to observe me at just the right angle since my tail feathers are rather pale when seen from below. Observe closely!

Although it’s not always easy to identify me from a distance, you can rely on my scream which is unmistakeable: keeee-uurrr. In flight I launch this long, high pitched screech against intruders to my territory. My voice is very popular in old Western films because, in general, it is my screech that you hear, whether the animal shown is an eagle or a falcon!

Here, in southern Québec, I usually spend the winter with you. It’s those of us living farther up north that migrate south. On average 5 000 of us thus fly by the Tadoussac area in the fall in October. Some years we arrive one month earlier. This would stem from an approximate 4-year cycle during which our primary prey, the Southern Red-backed Vole, experiences a dramatic drop in numbers. A domino effect results; we reproduce less and go hungry and so we leave Northern Québec earlier in search of food.

Location

Red-tailed Hawk

Caracteristics

dimension

Length M 48 - 56 cm; F 53 - 61 cm
Wingspan 1,17 - 1,47 m
Weight M 1,02 - 1,14kg; F 1,37 - 1,6kg

Lifespan

Record of 21 yrs in the wild and 29,5 yrs in captivity.

Habitat

To hunt: open areas, burns, cutblocks;
To nest: forests near open areas.

Diet

Mice, shrews, Voles, Snowshoe Hare, occasional birds, reptiles and amphibians.

Reproduction

1 clutch / year : 2 eggs (1-5); incubation 30 to 34 days. Monogamous, mate for life. Sexual maturity: 2 years.

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