Archive for Buteo (buzzard)

Red-tailed Hawk 11/23/17

This is one of the smaller Red-tailed Hawks I’ve come across lately, and being an adult bird I’m fairly confident calling this one male (females being up to 25% larger). Red-tails come in 14 different subspecies across North and Central America with considerable variety in their plumage, but the characteristic bulky shape, large size, pale underside with a streaked belly-band, and brick-red tail of the adults (when seen from the top) is common to all but the darkest variations. This is the borealis subspecies of northeastern North America—lighter than some of the morphs more commonly seen in the west.

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Immature Red-tailed Hawk 1/6/16

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Red-tailed Hawks are the most commonly seen big raptor in most parts of North America. They belong to the Buteos, a genus of stocky and robust hawks that are called “buzzards” in Europe. The coloring of individuals is quite variable, the belly band is a good field mark but less prominent or unreliable in the darker individuals. You see these hawks perched in trees along the highway, or on telephone poles watching for rodents, or soaring on high. This one’s immature which you tell by the faint barring in the tail which becomes a solid rich cinnamon in adults, and the light eyes which get darker with age. Red-tails reach maturity in 3 to 4 years.

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Red-tailed Hawk immature 2/11/15

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Immature Red-tails don’t get the rich cinnamon tails and the red-brown eyes of adults until they are about 4 years old. Photographed before Snowmageddon.

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Red-tailed Hawk immature 12/23/14

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Red-tailed Hawk immature 9/19/14

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Red-tailed Hawks are the most common hawk you’ll see in the northeast any time of year. Often soaring over open spaces but also watching for rodents and snakes from tree limbs or even powerlines, ready to pounce. Most of the hawks you’ll see along the highway are the blocky, handsome, Red-tails. Plumage among individuals is extremely variable, in part due to geography and subspecies. This is a typical immature of the east, note especially the yellowish eyes (brown in adults), white in the wings, and the tail is barred—the solid cinnamon tail of adult plumage isn’t achieved until the 3rd to 4th year. Females average a few centimeters larger than males.

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Red-tailed Hawk 5/5/14

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Red-tailed Hawk 2/25/14

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