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Screeching & Soaring

Updated: Jul 7, 2021

I heard a lot of very loud screeching from a large bird today. I kept hearing it throughout the day, and while Frank (our handy handyman) and I were installing an outdoor camera (for the minis and the piggies), we heard it nearby. I quickly pulled out my phone to capture the call from the bird, which was in a nearby tree. Check out the video below to hear and see the bird in flight!

After doing a bit of research, I determined it was a Red-Tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), which is one the most common hawk species in North America. The males have a call with a distinctive screech (usually while soaring) that's typically exhibited during the mating season. They screech loudly and repeatedly in order to defend their territory and claim their space.

Here are a few interesting tidbits I learned about the Red-Tailed Hawk:

  • It is legally protected in US, Canada, and Mexico by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act

  • Because they are so common and easily trained as capable hunters, the most hawks captured for falconry in the US are red-tails

  • The red-tail is the largest hawk, usually weighing between 2 and 4 pounds. As with most raptors, the female is nearly 1/3 larger than the male and may have a wingspan of 56 inches.

  • The eyesight of a hawk is 8 times as powerful as a human’s.

  • The hawk’s average lifespan in the wild is 20 years.

  • The red-tailed hawk is capable of “kiting,” holding still against the wind on set wings, much like a kite tugging against string. It’s one of the few birds able to do so.

  • The term “Buzzard,” generally applied to Vultures, really applies to the red-tailed’s family of Buteos, or soaring hawks. In England, a close relative is known as the “Common Buzzard.”

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