Red Tail

Red-tail-2 On our way to the recycling center, we spotted this Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) on top of a power pole. This is an adult, because it has a nice red upper surface on its tail feathers. Subadults have gray-brown tails with blackish bands across them. The generic name Buteo is the Latin name for a related European species Buteo buteo. In Europe, members of the genus are called “buzzards”, but in the U. S. we call them “hawks”. To confuse the matter further, in the U. S., vultures are sometimes called buzzards. The specific name jamaicensis means the bird comes from Jamaica. This name was given in a 1788 edition of  Linnaeus’s Systemae Naturae edited by J.F. Gmelin, where it was described as being from Jamaica. Now we know that the Red-tailed Hawk has a much wider range, from the Yukon and Northwest Territories across Northern Canada then south to Central America and the Caribbean. The most common prey of Red-tailed Hawks are rodents such as mice and squirrels. However, they are very adaptable and over their range eat a wide variety of foods. They often hunt from a high perch, where they scan the area for possible prey.


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