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SCIENTIFIC NAME: Buteo jamaicensis
DESCRIPTION: Classified as a raptor (birds known for hooked bills and sharp, strong talons) the red-tailed is the largest hawk in
DISTRIBUTION: Breeds in eastern North America except in
HABITAT: Very adaptable; will utilize nearly all habitat types as long as food sources are plentiful.
FEEDING HABITS: Opportunists utilizing whatever food sources are available including mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians, and invertebrates. Small rodents make up the majority of their diet.
LIFE HISTORY AND ECOLOGY: Thought to establish permanent pair bonds; mating and nest building begin in early spring. Large and bulky nests, constructed of sticks, are normally found in hardwood trees. Both the males and females assist with nest construction. The pair may build a new nest or repair a nest used previously. Two dull white to bluish eggs marked with reddish blotches are deposited from March to May. Incubation duties are almost entirely maintained by the female and take around 30 days. During this period, the male hunts and provides food for the female. Offspring are dependent on parents for one and one-half months. Maturity does not occur until a bird is three years old.
Johnsgard, P., 1990. Hawks, Eagles, & Falcons of
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Author: Richard Tharp, Wildlife Biologist, Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.