While we love our small birds like warblers, finches, and wrens, there is nothing quite like the sight of a large bird of prey in-flight or taking up a perch. Our fascination with large birds like hawks stems from their majestic appearance, hunting prowess, and elusive behaviours. What is thought to be the most common hawk found in North America, the red-tailed hawk is still a sight to behold in person.
While most of us can identify a hawk, those of us with slightly-less trained eyes are unable to identify the species. While they do tend to share common traits, there are many key identifiers one can use to successfully identify a red hawk if spotted out in the field. Here are a few key points to look for if you think you’ve spotted one of these raptors in their natural environment.
Where to Find the Red-Tailed Hawk
If you live in most places within continental North America, you have a fairly good chance at spotting one of these hawks in your lifetime. They can be found throughout the United States and most of Mexico year-round and are found in most Canadian provinces during the summer months. These birds tend to take to fields and open spaces and can often be found perched atop fence posts, telephone poles and large trees on the perimeters of open spaces.
These are large birds featuring very broad and rounded wings with short but wide tail. Their colouring is that of a rich brown colour and has a streaky belly with a dark bar that can be seen between the shoulder and wrist. Their tail feathers sport s cinnamon-red coloured plumage as their name suggests.
As with most hawks, their main calls is a hoarse-sounding screech or scream that usually lasts about 2 or 3 seconds and is usually made when soaring. They have also been known to make a shrill chwirk sound during courtship and can give a number of these small calls in a row.