Bird of the Week: Red-tailed Hawk

The Red-tailed Hawk is probably our most common raptor, and easily spotted from a moving car: tall trees, street lights, and tall buildings are equally attractive to this adaptable buteo (the buteos are a genus of hawks with large bodies and broad wings, which includes the Red-shouldered Hawk and the Broad-winged Hawk). Even if you’ve never seen a Red-tailed Hawk before–an unlikely prospect, given their near-ubiquity throughout the United States–you’ve almost certainly heard it, though you may not have known it. The Red-tailed Hawk’s shrill, rasping cry is a common stand-in for the Bald Eagle, whose call is a somewhat less intimidating whistle. Red-tailed Hawks are extraordinarily adaptable raptors, and they have benefited greatly from urban sprawl and human encroachment. Any highway in central Texas likely hosts at least one or two of these imposing birds, which love to perch on power lines and streetlamps to scan their territories for prey.

Compiled by Owen Moorhead. Sources include the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society.
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