Friday, February 12, 2010

Red-tailed Hawk

Probably the most common raptor that we see around Minnesota, and one of the most common raptors found throughout North America, is the red-tailed hawk. The red-tailed hawk can be found as far north as the arctic circle, during the summer, and as far south as the southern tip of Mexico and into Central America.
The red-tail is highly adaptable which has allowed them to flourish while many other species of raptors have been in decline. Red-tail hawks can be found in many different types of habitat including dessert, tundra, grasslands, fields, rainforest, parks, and even cities. They are ambush hunters often perching in a favorite spot waiting for prey to come into view and then pouncing. As a generalist they eat many different types of prey including mice, voles, rats, rabbits, squirrels, birds, snakes, lizards and carrion.
Red-tails have many different types of color forms and sub-species which can sometimes make it difficult to identify them. This bird, which I photographed near the Carpenter Nature Center in September, was very light, with a lot of white on the head and very little streaking on the belly. It is possible that this could be a Krider's red-tail, which is a light subspecies of red-tail, or it could just be a light phase standard red-tail or possibly even an immature broadwinged hawk. The more that I look at it the more unsure that I get. What do you think?

17 comments:

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

EB: Beautiful captures and a wonderful bird. The tail is not as red as the ones that soar around Ohio.

eileeninmd said...

Awesome shots of the Red Tailed hawk.

Kate said...

Great photos of the hawks with good information. I bet you go up to Hawk Ridge in Duluth, too. We go there once a year when the birds are migrating. Hadn't heard about the St. Croix center so I need to pay a visit. Thanks for the information.

Misty Dawn said...

I have tried and tried to get some good photographs of the Red Tailed Hawks around here, but it is very difficult, and I have not succeeded yet.

Lavender Cottage said...

So enjoyed seeing close-ups of this hawk that likes the easy pickings from the birdfeeders in our residential backyard.
We are surrounded by farmland and see many hawks sitting on the wires but one or two have realized how many birds visit our yard.

Snap said...

Just gorgeous. I'll never forget the day we woke up and saw one sitting on our fence -- not 20 ft away -- in the middle of town -- awesome!

Michael said...

Great pictures of a very handsome bird.

twobarkingdogs said...

Beautiful shots of a beautiful bird!

LeAnn * ~ See Great Things said...

What a beautiful bird! Thanks for sharing all of the info on it, it was very good. ~

Phil said...

Just stunning images. What a gorgeous bird.

Rajesh said...

Fabulous shots of the bird.

Lisa said...

Absolutely phenomenal shots of a phenomenal creature!

KaHolly said...

These images are just incredible. I have to go back and look at them again~karen

Ladynred said...

It's beautiful bird. I love the spread wings!
Green Iguana

Anonymous said...

Hello Ecobirder.

Your raptor is not a Red-tailed or Broad-winged Hawk but a juvenile light morph Swainson´s Hawk!
Note the narrow wint-tip with 4 fingers,5 in Red-tailed, pale coverts creating a somewhat two-toned underwing with some dark on the tips of the primary coverts. The dark malar conecting with a dark patch on the side s of the upper breast with less marked middle upper breatst is typical for Swainson´s.
Nice pic!

Cheers

JanJ
Sweden

Anonymous said...

I will also say that your bird is NOT a Red-tailed Hawk but rather a light morph Swainson's. Another mark visable on all morphs of Red-tails are the black patches on the front/leading edge of the wings(when viewed from underneath)... which are absent here.

T MF said...

I was going to ID this as a juvenile Swainson's hawk but I see that it has already been done. Would love to see the caption changed because these photos are fantastic.