top of page

Red-Tailed Hawk

Scientific Name:

Buteo jamaicensis




Open habitats such as deserts, grasslands, scrublands, and fields


North America, Central America, and the Caribbean


Least Concern (IUCN Red List)

This species is


to the Truckee Meadows.


Red-tailed hawks are large hawks most recognizable by their rusty-orange tail feathers from which they get their names. Their backs have darker feathers than their undersides, and they have dark feathers on the tips of the wings as well as in a band across their bellies. Red-tailed hawks are best spotted when driving either soaring above fields or perched on tall objects such as telephone poles.

Fast Facts:

  • Red-tailed hawks have the most recognizable call of any raptor. Their shrill, raspy scream has been used for decades to represent all types of raptors (including bald eagles), regardless if they were red-tailed hawks or not.

  • Red-tailed hawks have been observed hunting in pairs where both birds work together to capture squirrels by guarding opposite sides of a tree.

  • Red-tailed hawks are likely the most common and widespread hawk in North America. You have a good chance at seeing a red-tailed hawk on almost any drive on the continent.

  • Courting males will display to females by soaring in circles and diving before approaching. Sometimes, both males and females will clasp talons and dive together towards the ground before separating. Once mated, red-tailed hawks will usually stay together until one of the pair dies.



Haley McGuire (research & content)

Ernest Ross (photos)

Alex Shahbazi (edits & page design)

Last Updated:

March 27, 2024 at 1:48:22 AM

bottom of page