Red Tailed Hawk: A Magnificent Raptor

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Image captured in Delta, British Columbia with a Nikon D300 and Nkkor 600 mm f4 lens, ISO 400, f10, 1/500s.

From Wikipedia:

The Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) is a medium-sized bird of prey, one of three species colloquially known in the United States as the “chickenhawk,” though it rarely preys on chickens. It breeds throughout almost all North America from western Alaska and northern Canada to as far south as Panama and the West Indies, and is one of the most common buteos in North America. There are fourteen recognized subspecies, which vary in appearance and range. It is one of the largest members of the genus Buteo North America, typically weighing from 690 to 1600 grams (1.5 to 3.5 pounds) and measuring 45–65 cm (18 to 26 in) in length, with a wingspan from 110 to 145 cm (43 to 57 in). The Red-tailed Hawk displays sexual dimorphism in size, as females are about 25% heavier than males.

The Red-tailed Hawk occupies a wide range of habitats and altitudes, including deserts, grasslands, coniferous and deciduous forests, tropical rainforests, agricultural fields and urban areas. It lives throughout the North American continent, except in areas of unbroken forest or the high arctic. It is legally protected in Canada, Mexico and the United States by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

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. Falconers are permitted to take only hawks in their first year. Adults, which may be bred, are not permitted to be taken for falconry. Falconers prefer to train first year hawks, which have not been locked into uncooperative adult behaviors.

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.

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