Red-tailed Hawk

Buteo jamaicensis

Photo: Nancy Turner

Red-tailed Hawk


Red-tailed hawks have many different colour patterns in both light and dark phases, but most adults have a red-coloured tail and a light belly with a dark band across it. They have sharp beaks and talons, yellow legs and very good eyesight. An adult hawk can stand over 60 centimetres tall, and the females are bigger than the males.

Range & Habitat

These hawks are found across North America, Mexico and Central America, but they breed in southern B.C. and south. They are found in many habitats including open meadows, prairies, mountains and forests; they will go almost anywhere that they can find food. This bird is found in the Southern Interior and Central Interior Ecoprovinces.

Diet & Behaviour

Red-tailed hawks eat birds and reptiles, but most of their diet is small mammals. They use their very sharp claws and keen eyesight to catch their prey. They will sit in a spot where they can watch for food. Red-tails are acrobatic fliers. They will stay with the same mate and territory for years; they are very territorial, and will aggressively defend their area.

Lifecycle & Threats

The hawks lay two to five eggs in the springtime, and the chicks take almost three months to leave the nest. Young hawks are in danger from owls and other raptors looking for a quick meal, while adults have been hunted and trapped in very large numbers in the past.


COSEWIC: Not at Risk
CDC: Yellow

More Information


Photo: Dorst