Species names in all available languages
|English (United States)||Red-tailed Hawk|
|French||Buse à queue rousse|
|French (French Guiana)||Buse à queue rousse|
|Haitian Creole (Haiti)||Malfini ke wouj|
|Spanish (Costa Rica)||Gavilán Colirrojo|
|Spanish (Cuba)||Gavilán de monte|
|Spanish (Dominican Republic)||Guaraguao|
|Spanish (Honduras)||Gavilán Cola Roja|
|Spanish (Mexico)||Aguililla Cola Roja|
|Spanish (Panama)||Gavilán Colirrojo|
|Spanish (Puerto Rico)||Guaraguao Colirrojo|
|Spanish (Spain)||Busardo colirrojo|
|Spanish (Venezuela)||Gavilán Colirrojo|
|Turkish||Kızıl Kuyruklu Şahin|
Buteo jamaicensis ("Gmelin, JF", 1788)
The Key to Scientific Names
Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis Scientific name definitions
Version: 1.0 — Published March 4, 2020
Text last updated May 20, 2009
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Breeds throughout North America from s.-coastal and central Alaska southward to the Baja Peninsula (Figure 1). Found in a great variety of habitats throughout the range, but typically associated with open areas interspersed with woodland. Generally absent from large expanses of treeless terrain (e.g., central sections of the Great Plains and Great Basin, tundra, non-forested wetlands) and dense forest. Patchily distributed in hot deserts where elevated perch and nest sites are available.
Details for selected regions, as follows:
Canada. From the Yukon Territory south to British Columbia (BCBBA 2008), east to Saskatchewan (Smith 1996b), Ontario, s. Quebec, s. Labrador and s. Nova Scotia (Kirk and Hyslop 1998, Sauer et al. 2008a, Cadman et al. 2007a).
West Coast US. Common to abundant in western portions of Washington and Oregon, sparse in the Cascade Mtns., fairly common on the n. Pacific coast. Year-round resident throughout Washington and Oregon (Seattle Audubon Society 2008). Common to abundant throughout California (Unitt 2004c, Contra Costa County BBA 2008, San Fransisco Field Ornithologists 2003).
Rocky Mountains. Breeds throughout the Rocky Mountain Region (Breeding Bird Survey 2008). Common year-round resident in this region; primarily a summer resident at higher elevations and the northern third of Montana (Breeding Bird Survey 2008, Andrews and Righter 1992, Montana National Heritage Program 2008)
Central Plain. Common and widely distributed throughout the central plains in more open areas (Breeding Bird Survey 2008, Peterjohn and Rice 1991). Only scattered records in Mississippi lowlands and where landscapes approach more dense forest habitat (Jacobs and Wilson 1997, Missouri Department of Conservation 2008). Widely distributed in South Dakota, less common in northwest (Peterson 1995).
Northeast US. Broadly distributed and fairly common, sparse in upstate NY (esp. Adirondacks) and Maine (NYBBA, Breeding Bird Survey 2008, http://www.dec.ny.gov/cfmx/extapps/bba/bbaMaps.cfm?bndcode=RTHA&year=2000).
Southeast US. South Texas, Gulf Coast to Florida (Breeding Bird Survey 2008 Benson and Arnold 2001). A familiar bird throughout Florida except southern tip and in the Keys (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission 2003).
Middle America. Sinaloa, Oaxaca, Tamaulipas; also Tres Marias and Socorro islands (Walter 1990, Howell and Webb 1995). Also from Mexico south through the highlands of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama (Ridgely and Gwynne 1989, Stiles and Skutch 1989, Howell and Webb 1995).
Caribbean. Puerto Rico, n. Bahamas, Greater Antilles, and n. Lesser Antilles (Raffaele et al. 2003).
See also Systematics: subspecies.
From s. Canada south throughout breeding range in U.S., Mexico, and into the lowlands of Central America (American Ornithologists' Union 1998a; Fig. 1). Historically reported wintering south to Costa Rica and w. Panama (Ridgely and Gwynne 1989), recently reported as far south as Venezuela and Colombia (Hilty 1999, Castaño R and Colorado Z 2002). In northern portion of winter range, winters as far north as s. Canada, primarily British Columbia and Ontario, uncommon in Quebec and Nova Scotia, and rare in other southern provinces (National Audubon Society 2009c).
In U.S. common along the Pacific coast, uncommon to rare in Great Basin and n. Rockies, fairly common to common in s. Rockies, common in midwest, se., and ne. U.S., uncommon to rare in n. New England (National Audubon Society 2009c). An area extending from e. Washington into se. Idaho and n. Utah has some of the highest recorded densities of wintering Red-tails (Ferguson 2004). Year-round resident populations across the U.S. are generally augmented by northern latitude breeders in winter (Eakle et al. 1996, Knight et al. 1999). Winter populations fluctuate locally in response to the density and availability of prey (Gietzen et al. 1997, Knight et al. 1999). In Texas, distribution of Red-tailed Hawks shifts latituduinally in response to El Nino and La Nina events (Kim et al. 2008).
Historical Changes to the Distribution
Range expanded through e. North America in response to forest clearing for agriculture and urban growth. Has largely replaced Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) in partially cleared bottomland forest through much of the e. and midwestern U.S. (e.g., Bent 1937b, Petersen 1979a, Gehring 2003). Has also extended breeding range, or at least become more common, through the n. Great Plains of North America during the last 100 yr -- a result of increased tree growth in formerly treeless grasslands (Houston and Bechard 1983).