19-25" (48-64 cm). Dark brown above; lighter below with dark band of streaks across the belly. Red on tail as name suggests; lighter rump.
Similar Species- Swainson's, Rough-legged, Ferruginous, and Red-shouldered hawks.
A down-slurred scream: keeeer.
Breeds from parts of Alaska and parts of western and southern Canada, south to Baja California, northern Mexico, southern Texas, Gulf coast, and Florida, and south from there through highlands of Middle America to Coasta Rica and western Panama. Winters from southern Canada, south through remainder of breeding range, and in lowlands of Central America.
Opportunistic. Commonly eats rodents, birds, and reptiles, but will also eat other vertebrates and invertebrates as available. In Idaho, diet often includes ground squirrels, gophers, rabbits, mice, small birds, and reptiles. In Idaho studies, prey selection depended on relative prey densities and diet.
Builds stick nest in cliff, tree, or on artificial structure. Breeding density (pairs/km2) varies from 0.03 (Utah) to 0.78 (California), but is mostly less than 0.25. Elevated perches are important element of habitat. Home range found to be 13 km2 in Idaho study; composition of sympatric Red-tail and Ferruginous hawks was not affected by interspecific competition. Species is most common hawk in Idaho.
|Status:||Protected nongame species|
Steenhof, K. and M.N. Kochert. 1988. Dietary responses of three raptor species to changing prey densities in a natural environment. J. Animal Ecol. 57:37-48.