Red-Tailed Hawk Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth has been involved with tutoring since high school and has a B.A. in Classics.

You've probably seen a red-tailed hawk even if you didn't know what it was. In this lesson, you'll learn all about red-tailed hawks. The next time you see one, you'll know what you're looking at.

What Red-Tailed Hawks Look Like

Red-tailed hawks got their name because some types of red-tailed hawks have brick-red tails. The rest of the hawk can be brown, gray, or white. Red-tailed hawks are big birds. They're usually around 1 ½ feet long from head to tail. If they stretch out their wings, the measurement from one wingtip to the other is usually between 3 and 4 feet. That measurement is called the bird's wingspan. If a five-year-old boy spread his arms all the way out like a bird's wings, his 'wingspan' would be about the same as a red-tailed hawk.

This red-tailed hawk actually has a red tail. But not all red-tailed hawks do.
Red-tailed hawk

What Red-Tailed Hawks Eat

Red-tailed hawks are birds of prey. That means they live by eating other animals, which are their prey. Red-tailed hawks eat almost any small animal that lives on the ground. For example, they eat mice, rats, squirrels, snakes, and lizards. When they hunt, red-tailed hawks dive down from high perches to grab their prey off the ground.

A red-tailed hawk diving to catch its prey
A red-tailed hawk hunting

To catch their prey like this, red-tailed hawks have very good eyesight. A hawk can spot a mouse on the ground from the top of a 10-story building. You probably couldn't do that!

Living, Mating and Nesting

In addition to living all over the United States, red-tailed hawks are found in other parts of North America as well as Central America and the West Indies. They can live wherever they have open space for hunting and high places to perch and build their nests. A lot of them live around farms, where there are plenty of fields but also trees and telephone poles to nest and perch on. Some of them also live in cities, where they nest on high buildings.

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