Red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) are the most common species of hawk on the continent, living in nearly every part of North America, including most of Mexico. They are frequently found soaring in broad circles above open fields or grasslands; or perching on top of telephone poles or dead trees, searching for prey. Common in the wild, the species may be even more familiar than most people realize. The raspy, shrill scream of the red-tailed hawk is such a thrilling vocalization that any time a hawk or an eagle –of any species, anywhere in the world—appears in a movie, there is a good chance the sound track playing is the cry of a red-tailed hawk!
Most red-tailed hawks have rich, dark brown upperparts, including their head and more lightly coloured underparts with mottled brown across the belly. Tail feathers are typically light on the underside with a brick or rust colour on top, giving this hawk its name. However, despite this general description, there is much variation to exact plumage colour and pattern across the species…
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