Buteo jamaicensis


Common Names: Red-tailed hawk, chickenhawk
Category: Birds
Sub-category: Hawks, Kites, & Eagles


Because they are so common and easily trained as capable hunters, the majority of hawks captured for falconry in the United States are Red-tails. The Red-tailed Hawk also has significance in Native American culture. Its feathers are considered sacred by some tribes, and are used in religious ceremonies.

As is the case with many raptors, the red-tailed hawk displays sexual dimorphism in size, as females are up to 25% larger than males. Male red-tailed hawks may weigh from 1.52 lbs to 2.87 lbs and in females between 2 lbs and 4.4 lbs. Males measure 18 to 24 inches in total length, females measuring 19 to 26 inches long. The wingspan can range from 41 to 56 inches. Plumage can be variable, depending on the subspecies and the region. These color variations are morphs, and are not related to molting. Overall, this species is blocky and broad in shape, often appearing (and being) heavier than other Buteos of similar length. A whitish underbelly with a dark brown band across the belly, formed by horizontal streaks in feather patterning, is present in most color variations. Especially in younger birds, the underside may be otherwise covered with dark brown spotting. The red tail, which gives this species its name, is uniformly brick-red above and light buff-orange below. The bill is short and dark, in the hooked shape characteristic of raptors, and the head can sometimes appear small in size against the thick body frame. They have a relatively short, broad tails and thick, chunky wings. The cere, the legs, and the feet of the red-tailed hawk are all yellow. Immature birds can be readily identified at close range by their yellowish irises. As the bird attains full maturity over the course of 3–4 years, the iris slowly darkens into a reddish-brown hue. In both the light and dark morphs, the tail of the immature red-tailed hawk is patterned with numerous darker bars.

They can be found almost anywhere in Connecticut, often hunting in the suburbs and forest.

Edible Notes: No available information on edibility.
Warnings: While not generally considered dangerous, hawks sometimes will attack humans or pets when defending their territory or may see small pets as prey. It is not safe to handle an injured hawk unless protected and trained.
Sightings