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This large buteo hawk can be up to 65 cm (26 in) long with a wingspan of up to 145 cm (57 in). Males are smaller than the females. There are many color variations across its wide range. Adults have the red tail feathers, which gives them their name. The bird in the photo is an immature bird.
Red-tailed hawks are very adaptable and are found in many different habitat types across its range, including grasslands, forests, and mountains.
This immature bird has captured prey, probably a vole or mouse, which it is holding in its right talon, along with some grass.
Spotted on Oct 8, 2012
Submitted on Oct 12, 2012
and 4 other people favorited this spotting
Aw, good point Christy! I bet he is a juvi then! I just love this shot! I have literally come back to look at it 20 times! I'm sure you both are right! I've just been thinking about it and it was starting to bother me, so I thought I'd see what others thought! thanks for humoring me! :)
Gorgeous shot, Gordon!! I will pipe in a little...I'm not sure about the tail as it looks reddish-brown on my screen too, but the eyes are very light which is definitely a sign of a juvenile...but not necessarily a first-year...the eyes will turn golden. But he is young!! And beautiful!! ;-)
Emily, You raise an interesting question. I've always thought of Westerns being west of a line that bisects South Dakota from north to south, but, of course, with a bird's great mobility it wouldn't be unheard of Western showing up in far eastern Minnesota, but it would be about 600 miles east of their usual range. I also think of Westerns as being darker. This bird was actually quite pale overall with a white breast and a sparse belly band. The tail, as I remember it, wasn't red, but a tan/brown, as it appears on my computer monitor, but perhaps may not on yours. Unfortunately, the bird flew across my path and landed for just a few seconds so I was only able to get this shot, although I got a good look at it as it flew past. Since Redtails are hard to decipher to subspecies and morphs due to their polymorphism and because they intergrade where their ranges overlap, I tend to ID only to species unless it is really obvious to subspecies or morph. You may be right though. You can send the penny to my home address....grin. Thanks for the comment.
Hey Gordon, penny for your thoughts! I have come back to this picture many times wondering if this isn't an adult Western Red-Tailed Hawk. Westerns have the barring on their red tail. His tail looks so red in this picture, I can't help but wonder if this is an adult. Usually juvis have a pale tail with the barring. They don't usually get the red until a year old. Anyway, wanted to hear your thought on why you decided it was a juvenile! Either way I just love this photo! That thought had been a question in my mind for a while now!
Gorgeous capture! i love this picture.