Frequently Asked Questions about Red-tailed Hawks

Frequently Asked Questions about Red-tailed Hawks

Q: What exactly is a Red-tailed Hawk?

A: Red-tailed Hawks are found almost everywhere in North America. Their breeding and migration ranges stretch from the northern reaches of Alaska and Canada to the southern coasts of Mexico and Central America. According to Birds of North America online, Red-tailed Hawks have an estimated global population of at least 2,000,000 and in many areas the local populations of Red-tailed Hawks are increasing. For this and other reasons explained below, Red-tailed Hawks are some of the more commonly sighted raptors in North America and they are some of the more frequently treated raptors in the Wildlife Center of Virginia’s hospital.   

Q: What do Red-tailed Hawks normally eat in the wild and what do Red-tailed Hawks eat at the Wildlife Center?

A: Red-tailed Hawks generally survive on a diet of small and medium-sized mammals. They will also dine on smaller birds and snakes in the wild. At the Wildlife Center, hawk patients are typically fed dead rats and mice. 

Q: How long do Red-tailed Hawks normally live?

A: In the wild, Red-tailed Hawks have been recorded to live more than 25 years; however, Birds of North America online notes that this is very rare. In one study of 5,194 banded hawks, only 11 lived to be older than 20 years. Red-tailed Hawks grow in their red tail feathers in their second year.