RED-TAILED HAWK (Buteo jamaicensis) – (See images below)
 DESCRIPTION: The Red-tailed Hawk is mainly brown with some mottling white on top and a reddish tail, which gives it its name. The under parts are buff to creamy with brown streaks. Throat is reddish brown. Eyes are brown, hooked bill is grey. Legs and feet are yellow, talons are black. Sexes are similar, but females are larger than males. It is a fairly large bird of prey, with a wing span extending to almost 5 feet (150 cm), and a length 54 cm (22 inches). There are fourteen species and many morphs.
VOICE: – The call of the red-tailed hawk sounds rather sinister, which is why it is also sometimes used in movies.
NAME: The English name ‘Hawk’ stems from an Anglo-Saxon word that means ‘to seize’. The Latin genus name ‘Buteo’ means ‘hawk’, and the Latin species name ‘Jamaicensis’ refers to Jamaica, the location of the first identified individual.
HABITAT: Diversified open country.
DIET: The bird’s diet consists mainly of small mammals such as rodents (see photo below), but they can also eat birds and reptiles, even fish.
NESTING: The nest is built in a tree and made of twigs, with finer material on the inside. Usually two or three light blue eggs are laid, which are incubated by the parents.
DISTRIBUTION: The red-tailed hawk is a North American species, where it is widespread. Most birds in Canada and Alaska will migrate in the USA for the winter.
Distribution map:
ON PEI: This hawk breeds on Prince Edward Island but is uncommon, and rare in the winter.
CONSERVATION: Numbers of this hawk have increased in the last few decades and it is currently not considered at risk.
NOTES: Red-tailed hawks are in high demand by farmers, as they chase away the crows that eat their crops. But since the crows are more numerous, they will mob the red-tailed hawk and chase it away, so it goes both ways. Here’s an article about a red-tailed hawk hunting an American crow (successfully) in Charlottetown, PEI. Crows can be a serious nuisance for farmers, so they will sometimes install electronic repellers in their fields, imitating the sound of birds of prey such as the red-tailed hawk.
Red-tailed hawks are also a popular bird in falconry, because they have a good capacity for being trained and tamed, and are resistant to diseases so they live longer.

SIMILAR SPECIES: Northern Goshawk, Rough-legged Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk
REFERENCES: (New Hampshire PBS) (Maritimes Breeding Bird Atlas) (Missouri Department of Conservation)

This Red-tailed Hawk just caught a meadow vole – Summerside, PEI – Apr. 2017 – © Marie Smith
Red-tailed hawk just caught a meadow
vole - by Marie Smith, PEI
Red-tailed Hawk – East Point, PEI – © JoAnne Dunphy – Dec. 23, 2014
Red-tailed hawk, PEI, Joanne Dunphy
Red-tailed hawk in the winter – North Rustico, PEI – Jan. 6, 2017 – by Matt Beardsley
Red-tailed hawk, by Matt Beardsley
Red-tailed hawk in flight showing the red tail - by Brocken Inaglory, Dec. 2007
Red-tailed hawk in flight
by Brocken Inaglory