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Red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

Red-tailed hawk Photo credit: John Wollwerth @

NH Conservation Status: Not listed.


Federal Status: Not listed; Red-tailed hawks are legally protected in New Hampshire. Possession and take (which includes harming, harassing, injuring and killing) is illegal.


Distribution: Year-round resident in southern NH. Breeds in central and northern parts of the state.


Description: 19-25” long with a 45-52” wingspan. Dark brown on top with distinct short and wide rufous tail. Pale underneath with a wide darker breast band. From underneath, pale red visible on tail.


Voice: A shrill, descending, “keeee-eee-aaar”


Commonly Confused Species: Red-shouldered hawk has a black tail and is much smaller.


Habitat: Open areas, fields, meadows or parks, mixed with wooded areas. Perches in large trees. Common along highways in winter.


Nesting: Red-tailed hawks begin reproducing at 2 years of age. They nest once per year between the end of March and the end of April. Pairs may mate for life and usually nest in the largest and tallest tree near an opening for foraging. Females typically lay 2-3 eggs. Chicks hatch after 28-35 days of incubation and are able to fly once they reach 42-46 days of age.


Diet: Primarily consists of small to medium sized mammals such as voles, mice, chipmunks and squirrels.


ed-tailed hawk

Immature red-tailed hawk. Photo credit: John Anderson @


ed-tailed hawk

Red-tailed hawk soaring. Photo credit: Spaceheater @