Hawks are meat eaters or carnivores. They have a strong hooked beak and both of its feet have three toes pointed forward and one turned back. They have claws or talons that are long curved and very sharp. Their prey is killed with their long talons and if it is too large to swallow whole it is torn to bite sized pieces with its beak. A lot of birds of prey have been badly killed because of real or imagined competition with humans for game and domesticated animals. There are three different groups of hawks: the Accipiters, the Falcons, and the Buteos. The sharp shinned hawk, the Cooper's hawk, and the Goshawk are Accipiters. These hawks have long tails and short, rounded wings that enable them to dart through and around trees in pursuit of other birds. A series of strong rapid wing flaps gives them extra fast flight in open country and their swiftness allows them to overtake and capture other birds on the wing. The American Kestrel is the smallest of all the hawks and feeds mainly on mice and insects. It is the only falcon that hovers over its prey. Because of its range it is also the only falcon that most people are likely to see. Buteos are the largest hawks. The Buteos are the broad winged, broad tailed soaring hawks that are more readily seen because of their habit of circling high in the air or sitting on dead trees or on phone poles along the road.
The grown-up red-tailed hawk is easily seen for when it leaves its place in the tree its tail shows up because it is a bright red. Red tails are our largest hawk. The female is larger. She has a wingspan of over 56 inches. The red tailed hawk eats small rodents. They mostly survive on rabbits, gophers, squirrels, and mice. Their nests are 35 to 75 feet high in the top of a tree. They are big, flat, and shallow and are made of sticks and twigs. The female mostly lays 2 dull white eggs with reddish spots and splotches. The babies stay in the nest up to 48 days.
The red tailed hawk will sometimes kill a chicken
and is known sometimes as a chicken hawk. Some shooters are still
unaware of the law that protects these birds.