Thursday, August 29, 2013

This week's Crops & Clips: Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawks have raised families in several nests within a mile of our Illinois condo. They commonly brought their youngsters to hunt in the surrounding fields. Although the open space is now mostly gone, some still stop to roost on the light poles along our street, keeping a sharp eye out for voles and rabbits.

This is an adult with a bright red tail and light streaking on its mostly white breast. 

Red-tailed Hawk 2-20121104

In flight, Red-tailed Hawks show dark patagial markings on the underside leading edge of their wings. The patagium is the stretch of skin that extends from the body to the wrist.  This one, seen during migration in October, has some streaks and a reddish wash on its breast.

Red-tailed Hawk 20101029

There is considerable variation among individuals. This redtail has a pale breast and a heavily streaked belly band, as well as pale red tail. Its flight feathers lack the black trailing edge usually characteristic of adult birds, so it is probably immature.

Redtail 2008_10_31

An adult soaring high above.

Red-tailed Hawk DPP 20100510

Seen from behind, the white feathers on the hawk's mantle form a rough "V," which can be a useful identifying feature. This individual has a narrow black band at the end of its tail.

Red-tailed Hawk 2-20100605

Juveniles lack red in their tail and are more heavily streaked.

Red-tailed Hawk immature DPP 20110815

This young bird is sunning itself.

Red-tailed Hawk immature 2-20100820

This is one of my favorite shots, of an adult pair on a light pole.

Red-tailed Hawks 20110706

More images from our Illinois neighborhood.

Red-tailed Hawk 2-20130119

Red-tailed Hawk detail 20121120

Red-tailed Hawk in flight 20130110


  1. gorgeous! that 'from the back' shot is stellar!

  2. Gorgeous shots of my favorite bird!

  3. It has been nice to see a healthy Red-tailed Hawk population in central Florida this year.

    Very nice series of photos, Ken, and great information!

  4. Great shots of the hawks. The pair sitting together is my favorite. Have a happy weekend!

  5. Great sequence!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

  6. Magnificent shots. What a great capture of the pair together!

  7. Gorgeous shots of these handsome birds!

  8. Magnificent photography of nature's gem ~ carol, xo

  9. These are wonderful. I've never seen a pair of hawks together like that.

    We do see a lot of red-tails in the Pacific Northwest and they do seem to adapt when there is less open space. I hope yours do too.


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