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Red-tailed hawk        Images © Mark A. Chappell

Red-tailed hawks are common throughout most of North America and occur in a wide and confusing variety of subspecies and color phases.  Some of the adults shown here have the typical tawny-breasted coloration of western red-tails; some have a very pale breasts, and several approach the dark-morph extreme.  Many of these hawks were on power poles near the San Jacinto Wildlife Area near Riverside, California; one was photographed in western New Mexico.   I took most of the pictures out of my car window; most red-tails are much less concerned by vehicles than by humans on foot.
       Most juveniles have a heavy breast-band and brownish banded tail.   The adult feeding on the remains of a San Joaquin antelope squirrel, and the very dark juvenile, were wintering in the Carrizo Plain in San Luis Obispo County in central California.   One bird looks quite golden-red because the image was shot just a few minutes after sunrise.
       Pictures of red-tails not sitting on power poles are here, dark-morph birds are here and here, another page shows red-tails in flight, and another shows 'Harlan's hawk' (a northern race of the red-tail).

  • Canon 10D, 1D2, 1D3, 1D4, or 7D2; 500 mm f4 IS lens plus 2X converter or 800 mm f5.6 IS lens with 1.4X converter, some with fill-flash (2003, 2004, 2006-2008, 2010-2018)