Red-Tailed Hawks Size: Everything You Need to Know

Red-tailed hawks are one of the most common raptors in North America. They be found in a variety of habitats, from open fields and prairies to forests and urban areas. These birds are well known for their characteristic reddish-brown tail feathers

Red-tailed hawks are medium-sized raptors, measuring between 18 and 24 in length. They have broad wingspans that can reach up to 4 feet across These hawks weigh anywhere from 2 to 5 pounds, depending on their sex and age.

Red-tailed hawks have several adaptations that make them successful predators. Their sharpness and beaks allow them to kill prey easily, and their keen eyesight helps spot prey from great distances. Red-tails also have excellent flying skills, which they to pursue prey or escape danger.

Juvenile red-tailed hawks have brownish feathers on their upper body, while adults are dark brown with lighter reddish-brown tails. Red tails also display white or light coloration on the underside of their wings and tail.

Red-tailed hawks typically hunt by perching in tall trees, surveying the area for prey. They may also pursue prey on the ground, soaring through the air and diving after other birds or small mammals.

How big is a Red Tailed Hawk?

How big is a Red Tailed Hawk?

The Red-Tailed Hawk is a large bird of prey, measuring anywhere from 18 to 26 inches in length and boasting a wingspan of up to four feet. The hawk’s plumage is highly variable, but it typically features a reddish-brown back and wings, with a light-colored belly and tail. Females are usually larger than males, and juveniles typically have darker plumage than adults. The Red-Tailed Hawk can be found throughout North America, where it inhabits both open and forested areas. The hawk typically preys on small mammals, birds, and reptiles, but it will also scavenge carrion if necessary. Thanks to its broad diet and adaptable habits, the Red-Tailed Hawk is one of the most common birds of prey in North America.

Red-tailed hawk

Advice for Spotting Hawks

The red tailed hawk is one of the most easily recognizable raptors in North America, and they are a common sight throughout much of the continent. These birds have distinctive rusty-red tails and wings that span up to 4 feet across. The average size for an adult male ranges from 18–24 inches in length with a wingspan of approximately 40–44 inches. The average size for an adult female is also 18–24 inches in length with a wingspan of approximately 44–54 inches.

When looking for red-tailed hawks, the best time to do so is at dawn and dusk when they are most active. It’s important to note that these birds have a wide variety of colorations, so it’s important to pay attention to the details when you spot one. The most reliable marker for identification is usually the tail—it should be a rusty-red color and visible even from far away.

When trying to identify red-tailed hawks, looking at their size can also be helpful. When perched on a branch, these birds look relatively small. However, when in flight, they appear much larger than most other raptors due to their long wingspan and size. They will also make a distinct “keee-er” call as they soar through the sky, which can help make them easier to spot.

Diet and Habits

The red-tailed hawk is an opportunistic hunter, meaning that it will hunt whatever prey is most readily available. This typically includes small mammals like rabbits and squirrels, as well as reptiles, amphibians, birds, and even insects. They tend to hunt by sitting still in a high spot for long periods of time until they spot something they want to pursue. Then, they will swoop down quickly and snatch their prey with their powerful talons.

These birds also exhibit a wide variety of behavioral patterns depending on the climate and habitat in which they live. For example, some red-tailed hawks may migrate south during winter months while others remain in the same area all year round.

Red-tailed hawks are a common sight throughout much of North America and they play an important role in the food chain. By keeping small mammal populations in check, they help to protect ecosystems from being overrun by certain species. So keep your eyes peeled for these majestic birds—you never know when you might spot one!

Nesting and family life

Nesting and family life

When it comes to nesting, red-tailed hawks tend to prefer open areas such as meadows and prairies. They build their nests in trees or on rocky outcroppings, often choosing sites that provide them with a good view of the surrounding area.

Red-tailed hawk pairs typically mate for life and they will remain together until one of the birds dies. The female will lay eggs in early spring and incubate them for approximately 28–32 days before they hatch. Both parents will feed and care for their young until they are ready to leave the nest, which usually happens around late summer or early fall.

Behavior and conservation

Red-tailed hawks are considered a “least concern” species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and their populations appear to be stable. However, habitat loss due to human development and agricultural activities can still have an impact on their numbers. It is important for us to protect the habitats of these birds in order to ensure their continued survival.

Overall, red-tailed hawks are a magnificent species of raptors and it is always a pleasure to spot one out in the wild. With careful observation, we can all help to protect this species for generations to come.


Red-tailed hawks typically migrate in the fall, but some populations remain in their breeding grounds all year round. They tend to fly at high altitudes and they generally travel alone or in small groups. While they will usually follow a similar path every year, their exact route can vary from one season to the next depending on environmental conditions and food availability. 

Migration allows red-tailed hawks to find new sources of food and habitats that they wouldn’t have otherwise had access to. It also helps them avoid extreme winter weather, reducing the chances of them dying from exposure to cold temperatures.

Red-tailed hawks are one of the most common raptors in North America and with a bit of luck, you may be able to spot one as it soars through the sky. Whether you’re an experienced birder or just beginning to explore the wonderful world of birds, there is something magical about watching these majestic creatures on the wing. So keep your eyes peeled and see if you can catch a glimpse of a red-tailed hawk!

Eggs and Size

Eggs and Size

Red-tailed hawks usually lay from one to four eggs per clutch and the size of an adult female can range anywhere from 17 inches (43 cm) to 25 inches (63 cm). An average red-tailed hawk weighs about 3 pounds (1.3 kg), but some specimens may be as heavy as 5 pounds (2.2 kg).

The size of these birds can vary depending on their age and sex, as well as the region they live in. For example, red-tailed hawks living in northern areas tend to be larger than those that inhabit southern regions. 

Red-tailed hawks are large and powerful raptors that can soar through the sky with ease. They are also intelligent hunters and skillful flyers, making them one of the most impressive birds of prey in North America. So keep your eyes peeled for these majestic creatures—you never know when you might spot one!


Red-tailed hawks are vocal birds and they have a range of different calls. The most common call is a series of loud, high-pitched screams that can be heard from up to a mile away. They also make various other noises such as chirps, whistles, and clucks.

These birds use their vocalizations to communicate with one another and to declare their territory. They also use them to find a mate, as red-tailed hawks typically breed for life. So if you ever hear a red-tailed hawk calling out in the wild, it could be looking for its partner or trying to ward off any potential threats!

All in all, red-tailed hawks are an iconic species of raptor that is admired by birders and non-birders alike. They have a beautiful wingspan, impressive hunting skills, and striking plumage that can be seen soaring through the sky. So keep your eyes out for these majestic birds in your local area—you just might get lucky and see one!

How to distinguish between Cooper’s Hawk and Red-Tailed Hawk?

The Red-Tailed Hawk is the most common and widespread hawk in North America. It’s also a large bird, with a wingspan of up to five feet, so it can be difficult to distinguish between other hawks such as the Cooper’s Hawk. Fortunately, there are a few visual cues that can help you identify a Red-Tailed Hawk.

First, the Red-Tailed Hawk’s tail is easily distinguishable from other hawks by its bright red hue and white underside. While the Cooper’s Hawk also has a reddish-brown tail, it lacks the strong contrast of color that makes the Red-Tailed Hawk’s tail so easy to identify.

Another helpful way of distinguishing a Red-Tailed Hawk from other hawks is by its size. The Red-Tailed Hawk has a larger wing span than the Cooper’s Hawk, measuring up to five feet in length compared to three and a half feet for the Cooper’s Hawk.

The Red-Tailed Hawk also has a larger body than the Cooper’s Hawk, measuring up to 20 inches in length compared to 16 inches for the Cooper’s Hawk. Additionally, the Red-Tailed Hawk can weigh up to three and a half pounds while the Cooper’s Hawk typically weighs just two and a half pounds.

In terms of coloration, the Red-Tailed Hawk is also easy to identify by its mottled brown coloring on its breast and wings. In contrast, the Cooper’s Hawk has brighter chest markings that are often more pronounced than those of the Red-Tailed Hawk.

Is it legal to shoot a Cooper Hawk or Red-Tailed Hawk?

Is it legal to shoot a Cooper Hawk or Red-Tailed Hawk?

The short answer to this question is, no. It is illegal to shoot or kill a Cooper Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) or Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis). Both species are protected under federal and state laws in the United States.

Cooper Hawks and Red-Tailed Hawks are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, which prohibits the killing or taking of birds covered by the act. In addition, both species are protected under state-level laws in many states. Therefore, it is important to check with your local wildlife agency in order to determine what specific regulations and laws may be in place for these species in your area.

It is also important to note that it is illegal to possess the feathers, eggs, or nests of either species. Possession of any part of a Hawk can be punished with fines and/or jail time.

In some cases, it may be legal to have a hawk removed from your property if it poses a threat to humans, livestock, or pets. However, this must be done in accordance with the law. It is important to contact your local wildlife agency before attempting any type of removal or relocation of a hawk from your property.

It is also important to remember that hawks play an important role in our environment and should not be killed or harmed unless absolutely necessary. Hawks help to keep the balance of nature by hunting rodents and other small animals, which helps to protect crops and other livestock. Therefore, it is important to consider the long-term impacts that shooting a hawk can have on our environment before taking any action.


The red-tailed hawk is one of the most recognizable and beautiful birds of prey in North America. They can be found across a variety of habitats, from open meadows to city parks. Despite their relatively small size, they are powerful hunters who can take down large mammals like rabbits or squirrels. Their reddish-brown tail feathers make them easy to spot in the sky, and their loud call can be heard from a distance. Their size varies depending on the subspecies, with some being larger than others. Generally speaking, they are about 18-25 inches long with a wingspan of 3-4 feet. In addition to their size and beauty, red-tailed hawks also have the ability to fly for long distances and soar for hours at a time. This makes them ideal birds of prey, as they can quickly respond to changes in their environment and hunt from the sky.

Julian Goldie - Owner of

Julian Goldie

I'm a bird enthusiast and creator of Chipper Birds, a blog sharing my experience caring for birds. I've traveled the world bird watching and I'm committed to helping others with bird care. Contact me at [email protected] for assistance.