You’re unlikely to see this bird in your backyard (unless yours is a big one). Red-tailed Hawks eat mostly mammals, so they’re less likely to visit a popular feeder than a Cooper’s or Sharp-shinned hawk is. It’s very rare for a Red-tailed Hawk to go after dogs or cats. from All About Birds
The best thing that happened during Covid-19 quarantine on our little street was a family of Red-tailed Hawks that returned to raise their babies. They nested a few trees away from our house. Our immediate next-door neighbors would see their nest from their second floor.
They hatched two youngsters and our neighborhood has enjoyed watching them grow up, especially when they were learning to fly. As they set off each day to explore, they went further and further away but returned at 6 pm for their bedtime routine in a tree across from my house.
Our final encounter with the juvenile hawks was the amazing experience of one of them enjoying a shower via a hose from my husband.
Wild Red-tailed Hawk Juvenile Showers with Hose
Our hawks do not migrate according to All About Birds. My husband said that he watched a parent hawk try to teach the babies to hunt by dropping a dead chipmunk from a perch high in a tree our driveway and the babies paid no attention. They are such teenagers! I assume that the babies got the hang of hunting because our hawk family hasn’t returned recently. I think they are out exploring.
Cool Facts about Red-tailed Hawks from All About Birds:
- The Red-tailed Hawk has a thrilling, raspy scream that sounds exactly like a raptor should sound. At least, that’s what Hollywood directors seem to think. Whenever a hawk or eagle appears onscreen, no matter what species, the shrill cry on the soundtrack is almost always a Red-tailed Hawk.
- Birds are amazingly adapted for life in the air. The Red-tailed Hawk is one of the largest birds you’ll see in North America, yet even the biggest females weigh in at only about 3 pounds. A similar-sized small dog might weigh 10 times that.
- The “Harlan’s Hawk” breeds in Alaska and northwestern Canada, and winters on the southern Great Plains. This very dark form of the Red-tailed Hawk has a marbled white, brown, and gray tail instead of a red one. It’s so distinctive that it was once considered a separate species until ornithologists discovered many individuals that were intermediate between Harlan’s and more typical Red-tailed Hawks.
- Courting Red-tailed Hawks put on a display in which they soar in wide circles at a great height. The male dives steeply, then shoots up again at an angle nearly as steep. After several of these swoops, he approaches the female from above, extends his legs, and touches her briefly. Sometimes, the pair grab onto one other, clasp talons, and plummet in spirals toward the ground before pulling away.
- Red-tailed Hawks have been seen hunting as a pair, guarding opposite sides of the same tree to catch tree squirrels.
I hope our hawk parents return to rear more babies. I’ll keep you posted next spring if this happens! How about you? Are you enjoying backyard wildlife too? Thanks for sharing!
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