Plumage/Description: Male and female plumage similar. Red-tailed Hawks come in a variety of color phases—see the Sibley Guide to Birds to view examples of ‘light’, ‘intermediate’, and ‘dark’ phases. Diagnostic features include a ‘belly’ band—a band of darker colored feathers across a lighter back ground on the belly. The ‘red’ tail is more of a rich Rufous color, but is also variable in color. When viewed in flight, wings have a two-toned appearance with the leading edge of the wings darker in color and the trailing edge lighter. Juveniles are lighter overall, adults tend to be brown overall—darker on the topside, lighter on the underside.
Habitat: Grassland, Oak/Chaparral, Pinyon/Juniper, Ponderosa/Coniferous, Riparian/Deciduous, Residential
Time of year: Year-round
Relative Abundance: Common
Behavior: A bird of prey. Like all broad-winged hawks, Red-tailed Hawks spend a lot of time sitting on an elevated, exposed perch, such as a telephone pole or in a snag. They also spend a lot of time aloft as they search for food. Hunting strategy is to find prey while in flight and dive down on its prey.
Diet: Small mammals, birds, reptiles
Similar species: Other broad-winged hawks such as Swainson’s Hawk, Ferruginous Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk.
Best Sites: No-one best place. This species is common in all habitat types and should be easy to find regardless of where you are.