Red-tailed Hawks

Left: EPA Photo
Upper Right Photo Credit: Gavin Emmons; NPS
Lower Right: NPS Photo

Among the most common hawks in North America, the Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) can be seen soaring, perching, and pouncing on prey. It usually nests in a tall tree in or at the edge of scattered woodlands, or in an isolated tree in an open area – commonly choosing the tallest tree around. Red-tailed Hawks also nest on  manmade structures like the crossbars of utility poles and towers. Along with the hawk’s unique foraging habits, these nesting preferences make it more susceptible to collisions with wind turbines. Still, the North American red-tail population has remained steady alongside increasing urban and agricultural development. The fragmentation of forests into small woodlots and increases in woodland edge has actually expanded its habitat. This species is tolerant of human disturbances as long as food is available and the converted landscape includes adequate open space and perch sites for hunting and tall trees or other structures for nesting.