Red-tailed hawks

Red-Tailed Hawk Legs down Kalbach jpg

ILWACO — This large raptor is aptly named. You can’t miss it when it flies because it usually shows off its rufous tail. It often wears a belly-band of brown streaks on its white or tan under-parts. This can also be a good clue for identifying this hawk. However, Western birds tend to be darker overall than those that live in the East, and as a result may not always show a belly-band. There are several forms or subspecies all varying in color from dark to light. Many dark birds also have dark reddish brown bellies and backs, and the telltale rust color on the tail is usually present.

The Red-tail has strong legs and feet with sharp talons for grasping and killing prey, and its hooked beak is made for tearing off the flesh of its prey when it eats. It often hunts rodents or small mammals from a perch, but it will also hover in the air as it looks for small mammals. According to one field guide, it can spot a mouse from 100 feet up!

The Red-tailed Hawk can often be seen soaring across the sky on wind driven thermals. Its wings are long and broad and its tail is short, making it suitable for long periods of soaring. The wings appear to be rounded when the bird is in the air. When flying, the Red-tail often lets out a raspy scream. This is the sound typically used in movies to represent any hawk or eagle.

The Red-tailed hawk is common throughout Pacific County and the rest of North America. It is found everywhere except for unbroken forested areas and the Arctic. Look for it perched on trees in fields, or on roadside fence posts or poles.

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