© Joseph W. Dougherty. All rights reserved.
Buteo jamaicensis (Gmelin, 1788)
A rare blonde-headed bird.
Diet: The Red-tailed Hawk is carnivorous, and an opportunistic feeder. Its diet is mainly small mammals, but it also includes birds and reptiles. Prey varies with regional and seasonal availability, but usually centers on rodents, comprising up to 85% of a hawk's diet. Most commonly reported prey types include mice, including both native Peromyscus species and house mice, gophers, voles, chipmunks, ground squirrels and tree squirrels. Additional prey (listed by descending likelihood of predation) include lagomorphs, shrews, bats, pigeons, quail, corvids, waterfowl, other raptors, reptiles, fish, crustaceans, insects and earthworms. Where found in Caribbean islands, Red-tailed Hawks prey mostly on reptiles such as snakes and lizards, since these are perhaps the most predominant native land animals of that region. Prey specimens can range to as small a size as beetles and worms. However, they can also prey on marmots, White-tailed Jackrabbits, small domestic dogs, domestic cats, or female Wild Turkey, all of which are easily double the weight of most Red-tails. Although they prefer to feed on fresh prey they've killed themselves, these hawks are not above occasionally consuming carrion. During winter in captivity, an average Red-tail will eat about 135 g (4–5 oz) daily.