Buteo jamaicensis


The Red Tailed Hawk is one of the more common birds of prey in this area. They can be seen soaring overhead in the thermals and updrafts or perching high up in a tree or on a building while searching for its next meal. These predators eat mice, small rabbits, lizards, insects, and smaller birds. The Hawk generally catches the prey with its large, sharp talons. I once saw a Red-Tailed Hawk fly full speed into a bush for a Quail. The Quail got away and it was quite the spectacle to watch. Crows often harrass and chase the Hawks when they enter the Crows territory. When mating, these birds perform an aerial display of repeatedly soaring high and diving.


Dark head and wings. Rusty-red colored tail. Young ones have a brown colored tail. Stocky body, whitish chest, belly, and undertail coverts. Hooked beak. The female is about 1/3 larger than the male. 20 to 23 inches in length.


Grasslands, forests, lakes and farmlands.


2-3 white eggs with brown spots and an incubation period of 30-35 days. Fledging occurs 45-46 days after hatching. The nest is made from twigs and sticks lined with bark and softer vegetation. It's usually built in a tall tree or rock ledge.

Observed Locations:

  • Lake Murray, La Mesa
  • Mission Trails Park, San Diego
  • Ramona
  • Cabrilla National Monument, Point Loma

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Copyright © Scott Streit, 2000.