Video of the Day
Sexual dimorphism is a big concept in the avian world, with male and female specimens frequently displaying different sizes and even plumage coloration. While male and female red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) look very much alike, they often are distinguishable from each other. Red-tailed hawks are native to the Americas, where they are extremely numerous.
United in Color
While male and female birds often are totally different in color, that doesn't apply to red-tailed hawks. The majority of these sizable hawks have deep brown or grayish-brown coloration on the top. Their undersides, however, are markedly lighter, generally off-white or pale brown. Their chests and necks tend to be yellowish-brown. As their monikers express, most of them boast solid red tails.
Mature red-tailed hawks typically reach lengths of between approximately 18 and 26 inches. Adult specimens usually weigh between 28 and 43 ounces, as well. Females are significantly larger than the males, which is typical among birds of prey. Males generally are about 25 percent smaller. From faraway, bigger females sometimes are confused with eagles.
Male and Female Reproductive Behaviors
Reproduction in red-tailed hawks takes place during the spring. Males and females woo each other by flying around together, often for over 10 minutes at a time. The parents work on nest construction as a team, and it isn't uncommon for them to revamp nests from years before. The mothers-to-be deposit between two and three eggs, and incubation lasts for roughly a month. While this goes on, the males take it upon themselves to bring food to them. Note that the fathers occasionally help with incubation duties, too. Once the youngsters are born, the males and females work together to raise them. The chicks typically depart from the nests when they're around 6 weeks old. As monogamous creatures, red-tailed hawk pairings usually last until one of them passes away.
Red-tailed hawks are have strong territorial streaks. Duos of males and females tend to stay on the same exact "turf" for years on end. The diurnal hawks usually are extremely concerned about protecting their turf from others. When it comes to the area immediately surrounding their nests, the females usually are even fiercer than the males. The males generally are more concerned about the borders of their turf. Their territories run the gamut in size. Some are as big as 2 square miles, while others are merely half of 1 square mile.
- Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images