Common Name

Scientific Name


Photo by Lynn Chamberlain
Photo Copyright Lynn Chamberlain

The red-tailed hawk, Buteo jamaicensis, occurs statewide in Utah, where it is the most commonly seen bird of prey. This hawk has a wide North American range, occurring from Alaska south to the Carribean and Central America. It is frequently found in open country where scattered trees or other elevated perches are available. It usually hunts from high perches, capturing rodents, rabbits, birds, and reptiles. Whereas populations in Canada and the northern Great Plains migrate south in winter, populations in the southern half of North America, including those in Utah, are year-round residents.

Breeding pairs are usually monogamous for life. Nests are constructed high in trees, frequently in the tallest tree near the edge of woods, sometimes as high as 100 feet above ground. In treeless country, nests are built in the tops of shrubs or on cliffs. Pairs often return to the same nesting area in successive years. Two or three eggs are laid. Incubation lasts about 34 days, and is done mostly by the female. Young are tended by both parents, with most of the food brought to the nest by the male and most of the feeding done by the female. Young fly after about six weeks, but depend on their parents for food for at least a few weeks after fledging. If a clutch is lost, the pair may re-nest a few weeks later, usually at a new nest site.


  • Preston, C. R., and R. D. Beane. 1993. Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis). Birds of North America 52: 24 pp.

  • Baicich, P. J., and C. J. O. Harrison. 1997. A guide to the nests, eggs, and nestlings of North American Birds, Second Ed. Academic Press, San Diego. 347 pp.