Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis Scientific name definitions

C. R. Preston and R. D. Beane
Version: 1.0 — Published March 4, 2020
Text last updated May 20, 2009

Priorities for Future Research


A clear priority is developing a comprehensive, year-round monitoring strategy across the range of this species, helping us understand apparent contradictions among current population indices, especially in ne. North America.  Field studies to examine the effects of prolonged drought and large-scale landscape changes on productivity, especially in western North America, are important in light of climate change.  Life history and ecology of Red-tails in the tropics remain poorly known outside of Puerto Rico, and information on over-wintering distribution, diet, and behavior south of United States is generally lacking.  Information regarding the impacts of human activities – i.e., pesticide use, wind farms, and recreation -- on local population dynamics and movements are also needed. 

The exclusive ranges of some races and proposed races, especially “kriderii,” need delineation to determine if subspecific designation is warranted, and genetic analysis could provide some insight into gene flow and relationships among populations across a wider range.  The incidence and possible adaptive significance of polychromatism in the Red-tail and other North American buteos remains poorly understood, and a strategy combining field observation/experiments and genetic analysis may prove useful in elucidating the maintenance of distinct forms in some geographic regions while not in others. 

More broadly, the Red-tailed Hawk, as a widely distributed and highly variable predator, should be viewed as a model species for studies focused on how some species are able to successfully adapt to environmental heterogeneity and change, while others are less successful. 

Recommended Citation

Preston, C. R. and R. D. Beane (2020). Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (A. F. Poole, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.rethaw.01