Thursday, November 8, 2012

Red-tailed hawk

I find it very convenient that the Northwest's most common hawk has a conspicuous and identifying mark--the red tail for which it was named.

On sunny days you can often see them perched on utility poles along the highway, or soaring above searching for voles, mice, squirrels, and such.

The realization that red-tails weren't chicken killers started in the 1950s or '60s. Look in any bird book from that time and you're likely to find a plea that farmers stop shooting them out of the sky and a heartfelt defense against the accusations of them as "chicken hawks." In the nick of time, laws now protect all predatory birds.

Red-tails are also North America's most common hawk, but their coloration varies from east to west. They tend to be darker here in the West; occasionally they look almost black. But check out that handy-dandy red tail to help identify them.

Have you noticed red-tails perched along the highway? 


  1. On one of our walk in the neighborhood we see often see a red-tail perched in a tree. Yesterday, it took off and circled above us, so close. By the time I got my camera out, it had soared with the invisible currents and was out of range for photographing that amazing red tail.

  2. I often see hawks perched along the highway, but when they are all perched and bundled up like that, I can't really see the tail. So I mayor may not have seen a red-tailed hawk yesterday. I saw one swoop into a field last week. Fast food for a hawk is often a slow rodent.