Showing posts with label Hawks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hawks. Show all posts

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Fact Sheet: RED-TAILED HAWK - Buteo jamaicensis

(Original Title: Red-Tailed Hawk)

Female Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) eat...
Female Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) eating a squirrel. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Red-tailed Hawk is the most common hawk in North America. It soars over the open country in search of its prey or perches in a tree at the edge of a field or meadow. With its sharp eyes peeled, it watches for the slightest movement signaling the presence of prey.

Description
The Red-tailed Hawk is a large bird measuring 18 to 25 inches in length and has a wingspan of 37 to 52 inches. Its back, head, and throat are reddish-brown, and its chest and belly are white with brown streaks. Both the adult and immature birds have a prominent brown belly band that can be seen from a distance.

When perched, the coloration on the wings blends with the back, but when in flight, the pale underside is exposed. The wings have a dark bar at the leading edge and dark tips. Its broad tail is reddish-brown or rust colored on the top and pink below. The legs and feet are yellow.
The Red-tailed Hawk's coloration is variable depending on the subspecies, age, and habitat. The shape and color of the tail and the belly band are the best identification markers to look for in an adult.

Habitat
The Red-tailed Hawk tolerates a wide range of habitats. It can be found in deserts, grasslands, deciduous and coniferous forests as well as tropical rainforests. Its preferred habitat is mixed forests and fields with cliffs or trees that can be used as perches. The Red-tailed Hawk can be found throughout North America except the arctic region.

Mating and Nesting Habits
The Red-tailed Hawk reaches sexual maturity at three years of age. Once he finds a mate, he will stay with her year after year only taking a new mate when the first one dies. The courtship ritual consists of aerial maneuvers with both flying in circles and shrilling loudly. The male will break off and shoot upward only to dive back down again. After climbing and diving several times, the male approaches the female from behind. He grabs her talons and the fight begins.

The pair uses and defends the same nesting area year after year. They build the nest together usually placing at least 12 feet off the ground. It's not uncommon for the Red-tailed Hawk to build its nest on a cliff ledge 35 or more feet in the air.

The nest is huge, sometimes 35 inches in diameter and can be up to 3 feet tall. It is built of twigs and lined with pine needles and other soft plant matter. The nest is kept clean with fresh plant matter throughout the breeding season.

The Red-tailed Hawk competes with several different birds, including the Great Horned Owl for nesting sites. It is not uncommon for one species to destroy the eggs and kill the young in a hostile takeover.

The female starts laying her eggs in April, producing one every other day. The eggs are a bluish-white and the clutch is composed of 1 to 5 eggs. Both the male and the female Red-tailed Hawk incubate the eggs. Once the eggs hatch, the female tends the hatchlings and the male hunts. He provides food for the chicks as well as his mate. After 42 to 46 days, the chicks begin leaving the nest for short flights. For the following 10 weeks, they continue to depend on their parents while they learn to fly and to hunt.

Feeding Habits
The Red-tailed Hawk is carnivorous. Its diet is mainly composed of small mammals such as rabbits and rodents. It will also prey on snakes, lizards, birds, and fish. It is an opportunistic feeder and feed on whatever is available. It usually hunts from an elevated perch. Once its spotted prey, it swoops down and seizes it. It will even snatch a bird right out of the air.

Flight
The Red-tailed Hawk soars rather than continuously flapping its wings. The strokes are deep and slow. During the regular flight they average 20 to 40 mph, but when diving after prey it can reach speeds of close to 120 mph.

Voice
The Red-tailed Hawk's harsh kk-eee-er is often described as a scream.

Conservation Status
It is protected in the United States, Mexico, and Canada by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

Interesting Trivia
o The Red-tailed Hawk displays sexual dimorphism. The female is 25% larger than the male.
o The Red-tailed Hawk is a popular bird in falconry.
o The feathers of the Red-tailed Hawk are considered sacred by some Native American tribes.
o Their eyes are keen. The Red-tailed Hawk can spot a mouse a mile away.
o The Red-tailed Hawk can live up to 20 years in the wild.




Thursday, January 4, 2018

Types of HAWKS

English: Silhouettes of birds of prey (includi...
Silhouettes of birds of prey (including vultures here)
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Most people can tell a bird of prey when they see one in flight or at rest. Many don't know or cannot tell the types of raptors from each other. This article will allow you to recognize, or at least know about the major groups of raptors in the United States.

First, let's discuss the major groups of raptors, then we'll get into the major groups of hawks. Raptors are birds that prey on other animals, be they other birds, small animals or large insects. Generally, this does not include birds that prey on small insects. Eagles are one class of raptors. There are two common species of eagles in the US, the Bald Eagle, and the Golden Eagle. The adults are easy to tell apart as the Bald Eagle has the black body and white head and tail, and the Golden Eagle is dark brown all over with the less noticeable golden hackles of the back of the neck from which it gets its name. Both are very large birds that soar high in the air much of the time.

Falcons are narrow-winged fast flying birds of prey. Then mostly feed on other birds, and tend to have fast direct flight, except in the smallest US falcon the American Kestrel which tends to have a weaker more buoyant flight. The Falcons we see are the massive bulky Gyrfalcon, the Peregrine Falcon, the Prairie Falcon, the Merlin and the American Kestrel, listed from largest to smallest. Buteos are what most of us think of as the classic hawk. They are broad-winged, relatively short-tailed birds that usually inhabit open areas, though some of the smaller may be forest birds. They soar on broad wings and hunt by dropping from flight or a perch onto prey.

Accipiters are a group of three species of hawks that primarily hunt other birds and take their prey by direct attack. Some use surprise, others just agility, strength and speed. They all have long tails, broad wings, and strong flight. The three species are the large Goshawk, the medium-sized Cooper's Hawk, and the smaller Sharp-shinned Hawk.

In almost all birds of prey, the females are larger than the males. This is presumably to allow them to better conserve heat and incubate eggs, while the smaller males are more efficient hunters and support the female and the young on the nest. See the Cornell University Ornithology web site for photos and more information.




Thursday, June 15, 2017

The FERRUGINOUS HAWK

The male ferruginous hawk is quite large; however, the female is a bit larger. Ferruginous hawks have rusty colored feathers on theirs wings and their legging feathers. Most live in the western Great Basin and Great Plains. They are excellent fliers that know how to soar in the sky for a long time. 

Ferruginous Hawk flying near Cambria, San Luis...
Ferruginous Hawk flying near Cambria, San Luis Obispo County, California, USA.
(Photo credit: 
Wikipedia)

Ferruginous hawks also stay in uncultivated pastures on prairies and grasses in western North America, however they spend most their time in arid and semiarid grassland regions. Ferruginous hawks avoid high elevations, forest interiors and places like narrow canyons and cliff areas.

During 1900, ferruginous hawks nested though south and central Alberta, but in 1980, the ferruginous hawk was designated threatened. Today it is still designated vulnerable by the Endangered Wildlife in Canada and the population has declined in most areas in the US except California. The main reason for their endangerment is the disappearance of native short grass that hawks use for hunting.

Ferruginous hawks like to hunt gophers, however hawks in Alberta eats mice and white-jack rabbits. Hunting generally occurs in the early morning and the late afternoon. They can attack from short distances and strike prey on ground, use aerial hunting from about 300 feet, or just fly after prey from a perch. They do not hunt very well on croplands because their large wings and size prevent them from effective manoeuvre among grains on the ground.



Hawks build their nest in trees including cottonwoods, willows and swamp oaks along the waterways. which occurs in mid March in Colorado and Kansas but they will nest on the ground if necessary. The male hawk collects most of the material such as grass, twigs, old bones and crow or horse dung, while the female arranges it into a nest, which they use year after year. They lay their eggs between February and July and their nest usually contains three or four white eggs.



(Original Title: Birds - The Ferruginous Hawk)