Red-Tailed Hawk

Feel lucky that you are not a small mammal when you are close to one of these formidable hunters. They have strong, large talons, a keen sense of sight, and they are very patient. Their patience pays off as they watch for prey from a perch; they are commonly seen perched along fences, signs, and light posts. In Delta, Red-tailed hawks will hunt for voles over Grassland Set-asides.

Their wingspan is approximately 1.25 meters (4 feet), and they have bulky wings. The tip of the wing has feathers that separate into ‘fingers,’ a feature that is shares with other soaring birds. The feathers reduce the drag, which enables birds to fly at slow speeds without stalling.

Photo by rbs 10025

Although their plumage can be quite varied, all adults seen in Delta have reddish tails, especially the upper side. They are excellent flyers, able to soar on thermal air currents, hover in place by flapping their wings, and dive rapidly to capture prey.

Whether you realise it or not you have heard the Red-tailed Hawk’s call many times in movies. Its piercing cry is often used when a Bald Eagle is seen in a movie, or during a dramatic moment. A unique breeding display that you may be lucky to see in the spring occurs when a pair circles together and afterwards descend to a perch inches apart in a strange posture, with their legs dangling below.

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