James Asks "Why don't we ever see the baby red tailed hawks?"
Mating and nest building begin in early
spring, usually in March and continue through May. This is accompanied
by spectacular aerial displays by both males and females. Circling and
soaring to great heights, they fold their wings and plummet to treetop
level, repeating this display as much as five or six times.
Nests are located from 35 to 75 feet high in the forks of large trees. The nest is large, flat, shallow and made of sticks and twigs about 1/2 inch in diameter. Both males and females assist in nest construction. Nest sites may be used from year to year, since there is strong evidence that hawks mate for life. If the old nest is wind damaged, layers of new nesting material are added each year.
The female usually lays 2 dull-white to bluish-white eggs that are marked with a variety of irregular reddish spots and splotches. Incubation takes 28-32 days and is maintained almost entirely by the female. During this period the male hunts for both of them, bringing her food to the nest.
When hatched, the young are covered with white down. They grow slowly and require much food, which keeps both parents busy. They remain in the nest for up to 48 days. During the last 10 days or so the young, which now appear as large as the parent birds, practice flapping their wings and balancing in the wind on the edge of the nest, preparing for the days when they will launch themselves into the air.
The young fledge at about 45 days. Red-tails typically do not begin breeding until their third year.
The Red Tailed Hawk
The Red-tailed Hawk is a most opportunistic hunter. Its diet is varied, but there is conclusive evidence now that 85 to 90 % is composed of small rodents, with rabbits, snakes and lizards included. Where there are large numbers of pheasant, these become the food of choice in spring and summer. Like all hawks, its talons are its main weapons.
The Red-tailed Hawk has hoarse and rasping 2- to 3-econd scream that is most commonly heard while soaring. They are loudest when defending their. When parents leave the nest, the young utter a loud wailing "klee-uk," repeated several times - this is a food cry.