Birds of Prey
Latin name: Buteo jamaicensis
Habitat and Distribution: Red-tailed Hawks inhabit the majority of the continent except in areas of unbroken forest or tundra. They occur in a variety of habitats including woods with nearby open land, plains, prairie groves and deserts. Their preferred forest types are white pine forest and mixed hardwoods with red oak dominating. Red-tailed Hawks can often be seen perched on treetops, telephone poles and fence posts, especially along the highways.
Diet: They are known to pirate prey from other raptors and when live prey is scarce, will eat carrion (dead animals). They prey primarily on rodents and small mammals, but will also feed on reptiles, amphibians, small and medium-sized birds, large insects and occasionally fish.
Status: No special status.
Personal Biography: The New Canaan Nature Center's resident Red-tailed Hawk came to us in the summer of 2001. She had a wing partially amputated and can't fly well enough to be released in the wild. We now use the bird in educational programs.
Facts: Red-tailed Hawks are one
of the largest members of hawks known as buteos, identified by broad
wings and a wide, fan-like tail used for soaring. Red-tailed Hawks
hunt from a high perch or while soaring in the air.
As with most raptors (birds that have hooked beaks, talons and catch
their food with their feet), Red-tailed Hawks show sexual dimorphism,
meaning males and females can be distinguished from each other. The
male and female Red-tailed Hawks have similar color patterns, but
differ in size. The females are generally 25% larger than the males.
Sexual dimorphism enable raptors to take advantage of a wider range
of food items -- males are faster and can catch more agile prey, females
can handle larger, stronger animals.
Sponsor An Animal
You can help support the care of our live animal collection by participating in our Sponsor
an Animal program. Your financial support funds the cost of medications,
food and personal care, as well as proper housing and upkeep of the
animal enclosures. Because each animal's needs are different, the
cost of sponsorship varies. For information about animals which are
currently available for sponsorship call (203)-966-9577.