Louis Agassiz Fuertes
La. falcula, falcis small sickle
(a reference to its talons)
La. forma form, shape, kind
La. accipere to grasp, take
La. accipiter hawk
La. buteo buzzard
La. jamaicensis for the Island of Jamaica
Red-tailed Hawks are the largest of the common American hawks, almost
two feet long with a four foot wing span.
Brown crown, cheeks, and shoulders. Distinctive rusty red, broad, barred
tail tipped with white and a narrow black band near its end. Buff white
underparts with heavy brown markings across the lower breast and on the
Inhabits forests and groves in most of Canada and
Alaska as far north as there are trees, throughout the lower 48 states,
Central America and some Caribbean Islands. Northern hawks migrate short
Builds a nest high in trees, often more than 50
feet high, out of rather large sticks lined with smaller twigs, strips
of bark, and its own feathers and sometimes used for many years.
Lays two or three, sometimes four dull white
irregularly marked eggs which hatch into helpless downy covered young
after about four weeks incubation.
Soars high overhead in great spirals
searching for prey occasionally emitting a weak distant high pitched
whistle. Suddenly lifting its wings above its back it shoots
earthward like a meteor slowing with its outstretched wings in the last
second before gripping its prey with talons.
Louis Agassiz Fuertes
Eats mice, rabbits, gophers and other small mammals, birds, reptiles,
insects and crayfish. They grow quite large, as large as the
adults, before they fly out of the nest.
In good seasons when flora thrive, so do
rodents, and so then do hawks and owls. There can be very high
populations of predators and competition for space can make birds
Their nests are usually near the tops of trees in forests
near clearings, and groves in open country where they can observe broad areas
from a high perch.
Bounties were paid for these hawks years ago because
of their appetite for poultry and game birds gave them a nuisance reputation.
Now however, the value of a bird that eats so many
rodents in addition to the value of its place in the ecosystem is recognized and
the Red-tail and other hawks as well as other migratory birds are protected.
Print free woodworking plans of a Square Platform 2 feet on
each side (recommended by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), same as for the
Great Horned Owl.
Mount 14' or higher on a sturdy post or structure on a forest
edge or in a clearing adjacent to the tree line. High mounts should only be
installed by professionals.
The chances of attracting a hawk to a platform are
probably slim in most places. However, some Red-tails become
accustomed to civilization as they can be seen along most any road or
highway perched on highline poles or soaring above moving farm machinery
searching for frightened rodents.
A properly positioned platform at the right isolated
ranch on a high pole or an old abandoned windmill might attract an inexperienced
young hawk looking for an easy fix.