Saturday, November 2, 2013

Red-tailed Hawk - A Versatile Raptor

The red-tailed hawk is a versatile raptor

It's a jungle out there. Wild animals are finding it increasingly difficult to survive in an environment so drastically altered by human intervention. Despite the transformations, there is a versatile raptor that's making life in the wilderness look easy. The red-tailed hawk has benefited from forest thinning, fire suppression and construction of the interstate highway system.

The red-tailed hawk has adapted to a new landscape dominated by sparse woodlands and open fields. Their numbers have increased because we've created prime hunting areas that provide ideal nest sites and elevated perches. First identified in Jamaica, the diverse red-tail is currently widespread as its range extends from Alaska and Canada south all the way to Panama.

Working during the day, the broad-winged buteo soars above meadows surveying its territory for mice and possible intruders. It has a nocturnal neighbor that handles the nightshift. The red-tailed hawk frequently shares its land with the Great Horned Owl. Together, they form one of nature's most efficient, rodent exterminators.

At home, the red-tail is a devoted spouse and parent. After a dramatic, aerial courtship, the pair stays together for life. It's a relationship based on trust and teamwork. Both the male and female take part in nest building, incubation and raising the young. Sometimes they even hunt together. One bird will strategically flush prey into the razor sharp talons of the other. It's a match made in heaven, 'til death do they part.

The red-tail has adapted to a new landscape

The broad-winged buteo soars above open fields

A devoted parent

4 comments:

  1. Fantastic pictures. Would I have seen one here in Ohio? Do the make it to my neck of the woods? I think I saw one and would love to have it come back and eat some of the varmits that dig holes in my yard.

    Traveling Suitcase

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    1. Yes, I think they're common in Ohio. They would inhabit open woodlands near meadows or fields. You can also see them on the utility poles that run alongside the highways. If they're around, they'll take care of those little varmits.

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  2. Beautiful photos of the hawks Dan! I really like these. I don't get to see them up close too often, just occasionally!

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    1. Thanks Judi, we see them a lot around here. I just need to be ready with a camera when the opportunity arises. I'm working on the Yellow-eyed hawk drawing and I've made a good start.

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