Cascades Raptor Center

Resident Raptor - Red-tailed Hawk

Banjo, Uriel & Koa

Uriel Uriel  (Female) was found in West Eugene in November 1996 as a first-year ('passage' or immature) bird, and came in starving, with an old broken toe and a partially healed laceration to her left wing. The skin was trying to heal under the bone, which had left her humerus exposed on three sides. When healing was finally complete, with the help of surgery, the restoration of so much soft tissue and the loss of some necrotic bone left the wing with imperfect extension, so she cannot fly.
(Uriel is glove-trained.)  Sponsor Uriel

Koa Koa  A female 'dark morph' red-tail, came in starving as an adult in early September 2001. After unsuccessful antibiotic treatment of a lesion on her right eye, cytology on a scraping done by a veterinary ophthalmologist showed that the lesion was caused by a fungal infection. Despite two months of anti-fungal eye drops administered four times a day, the lesion did not resolve. A sluggish third eyelid (whose function is to sweep frequently over the surface of the eye to clean and moisturize it) was probably the cause of what was clearly a chronic problem. Though surgical removal of the lesion could have been attempted, the inadequacies of the nictitating membrane would have led to continued complications. The eye itself was thus removed.  Sponsor Koa

BanjoBanjo was trapped by a falconer in Indiana in 2004 and flown as a hunting bird for one season. Unfortunately he hit a window and caused irreparable damage to the right eye. Structurally, the eye looks fine but there is apparently damage to the optic nerve or to the part of the brain that governs vision in that eye. He flies and lands fine, but can no longer discern a prey animal very well if it is in any kind of cover, even if it is moving. He was transferred to CRC for education in December 2005 – very used to people!  (Banjo is glove-trained.)  Sponsor Banjo

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

Courtesy of Barbara Gleason A large, stocky hawk with broad and fairly rounded wings, and a wingspan of about 4ft. Plumage is extremely variable in pattern and amount of dark; at least 4 light morph (variety) and 3 dark morph subgroups have been identified, with color phases ranging from pale, to "normal," to reddish, to dark; all of these interbreed, so individual variation in this one species of hawk is enormous. Sexes are similar in appearance, with much size overlap, but females Red-tailed Backare generally larger.

The reddish tail of the adult is distinctive to this species, but juvenile birds (and some color morphs) lack this feature. Most adults have a belly band of dark streaks on white underparts. Another identifying point common to all subgroups is a dark mark on the leading edge of the underwing, visible in flight. This is the most common and widespread hawk in North America - and also has the most variable pattern of plumage of all hawk species on the continent. Flight pattern of flapping and gliding is often seen when this bird hunts on the wing; most often seen in soaring flight, with the wings held in a slight dihedral or broad U-shape.

Notes

Size

  Male Female
Length 18.0 - 22.5" 20.5 - 25.0"
Wing Span < 45" 48 - 54"
Weight 1.7 - 2.4 lb. 2.0 - 3.1 lb.

Status - State and federally protected.

Habitat - Lives in coniferous to mixed and deciduous woodland, prairies, woodlots, fields and roadsides, to saguaros and tropical rainforests; lives at all elevations from sea level to 9,000 ft. Habitat for this hawk is extremely variable -- as are its hunting habits and its plumage, which are designed to take advantage of each particular habitat and way of making a living.

Diet - Over 85% of the diet consists of rodents, but this hawk is a very opportunistic hunter and will eat other mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects. Primary hunting style is to perch and wait; frequently seen on a conspicuous roadside tree or fencepost. This hawk most often hunts from a perch at wood's edge, but can also hunt in more open or forested areas. Other common hunting styles are soaring at high altitude for prey (and to announce territorial ownership), and hover hunting.

Call - A loud, wheezing, descending kkeeeeerr is the most common call of this sturdy hawk.

Nesting - Prefers nesting in a tall, open-crowned tree with good views and access to suitable hunting grounds, usually in open woodland or forest edges. Builds a bulky twig and stick nest, lining it with greenery and strips of bark; often builds on an old nest, and may alternate between several perennial nests.

Most Common Problems - Collision with vehicles; also gunshot, electrocution, hitting power lines, barbed wire fences, poisoning and leg-hold traps.

   




Range - Breeding range extends from Alaska to Newfoundland, and south into Panama. Northernmost birds are migratory, retreating south from northern areas in severe cold when out of breeding season.
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