Raptor Spotlight: Scout
October 20, 2020
The Raptor Center
Scout perched on a handlers arm

Estimated 4 years


Red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

Species nickname: 
Red-tail, Buzzard hawk

Order Accipitriformes, SI genus Buteo

In the wild, red-tailed hawks eat a wide variety of prey depending on location and season, including mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and the occasional bird.

Red-tailed hawks are relatively large hawks that look quite bulky and sturdy. Broad, rounded wings and a wide tail help them efficiently soar through the air. Like other raptors, females are larger than the males and weigh 2.5 to 3 pounds (1.1 to 1.4 kilograms). This species is quite variable across the country in terms of coloration and size. Scout is a western subspecies and a male, so he is fairly small with beautiful striped red tail feathers. He weighs about 2 pounds (900 grams).

Average lifespan: 
The oldest known age for a wild red-tailed hawk is just over 25 years, though the average is less than 10 years. In captivity they can live to their late 20s.

Migratory pattern: 
Migration of red-tailed hawks varies and depends on location, making them “partial migrants.” Typically those in the northern parts of Canada and the United States move farther south for the winter, but others reside in one area year-round.

These hawks generally prefer a good vantage point, whether that’s a tall light pole while hunting or a towering tree for nesting. They build large, sturdy stick nests that they will return to year after year (though great horned owls, which don’t build their own nests, often try to claim red-tailed hawk nests as their own).

A slow motion video of Scout the red-tailed hawk