Bird of the Week: Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

First listen to this bird's call here.

That screech you've heard before. It is a sound often used in movies when they want to represent the West. Go ahead and listen again, this time imagine a panorama view of the high desert and a lone cowboy riding his horse into town.

Red Tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

The Red-tailed hawk is a hunter, a raptor who isn't picky about what its next meal is. They are opportunists and will eat snakes, rabbits, rodents, frogs, songbirds, and virtually any available small creature. Unlike most raptors, Red-tailed Hawks will sometimes be seen hunting in pairs. If rabbits had horror movies, it would start with spotting the shadows of two Red-tails closing in on it.

The Red-tailed Hawk is one of the most common raptors in New Mexico (and in North America). You can spot them in the mornings perched on power poles as they wait for thermal updrafts to assist their soaring, and you will find them anywhere there is an abundance of rodents and rabbits.


A special thanks to Seth Hall for lending his bird expertise.

Photo Credit: RedTailDisplay CC BY-SA 3.0


I think this will always be

I think this will always be my favorite hawk.