Red-Tailed Hawk

A noticeable decline in birdseed consumption in our back yard has us wondering: what’s changed?

There’s a new cat prowling the neighborhood, and we’ve had a couple of Santa Ana wind events. The birdseed didn’t smell rancid. Why the downturn in our feeder traffic?

This juvenile red-tailed hawk might be a key. 

Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk

Notice that it is standing on one leg. Eventually, this bird flew to our patio to inspect the premises and I saw two sets of yellow talons.

Also, check out the space on the beak where it joins the forehead.  Known as a cere, it changes color during breeding season for mature raptors.  This hawk’s bill has a blue-gray color which will turn to yellow when mature.

Based on plumage color, and Sibley’s Birds of the West, this bird is a juvenile red-tailed hawk.  Cornell University’s All About Birds takes it a step further and identifies this subspecies as Adult Light Morph (calurus alascensis).   Where’s the red tail?  We see the subtle bands of color on the underside of this bird’s tail feathers. In the next year or two, the cinnamon-red hue should be visible.

Fun Fact:

In movie soundtracks, when a call is needed to accompany the visual of a bald eagle, it is the sound of the red-tailed hawk that is dubbed in its place

Published by Mashabu

Earnest observer of our natural world.

4 thoughts on “Red-Tailed Hawk

  1. Do Red Tails eat other birds? Maybe it was on the hunt for rodents that might snack on what the birds drop. Great picture of the hawk, BTW.


  2. I love the info, especially the fun fact about moviemakers subbing the red tail hawk sounds in lieu of eagles. I’ve heard an eagle’s emphatic call warning me away from her nest of eaglets. So do you think red tails make scarier sounds?


    1. Thanks for keeping up with the blog!
      I think the red-tailed hawk is less piercing and shrill than the bald eagle. We hear both the red-tailed hawk and red-shouldered hawk calls almost every day. It’s an amazing neighborhood to live in.


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