Male Red-Tailed Hawks have a body mass between 690 and 1,300 g. Their length is 45 to 60 cm (18 to 24 in). Females weigh between 900 and 2,000 g and are 48 to 65 cm (19 to 26 in) long. The wingspan ranges from 105 to 141 cm. These birds have three color morphs: light, dark, and intermediate or rufus. Overally they are broad and blocky in shape. They have a whitish underbelly with a dark brown band across and a thick wings. Their tail is brick-red above, light orange below, it is short and broad.

Habitat and Distribution

The Red-tailed Hawk breeds from central Alaska, the Yukon, and the Northwest Territories east to southern Quebec and Maritime Provinces of Canada, and south to Florida, the West Indies, and Central America. They winter in southern Canada. Its preferred habitat is mixed forest and field, with high bluffs or trees that may be used as perch sites.


The diet is mainly small mammals, also birds and reptiles. Prey includes house mice, gophers, voles, chipmunks, squirrels, snakes, lizards, insects, worms etc.


Red-tailed Hawks build a stick nest in a large tree (4 to 21 m) off the ground, , or on a cliff ledge , or in man-made structures. A clutch of 1 to 3 eggs is laid in March or April, depending upon latitude. Eggs are laid almost every other day, they are 60mm by 47mm in size. The female does most incubation, helped by the male who also brings food to her. After 28 to 35 days, the eggs hatch over 2 to 4 days.

Calls and Songs

Their flight call is a rasping scream , desribed as kree-eee-ar, which begins at a high pitch then slurs down. They make a croaking guh-runk, alarm call.