Red-Tailed Hawks
Buteo jamaicensis
December 4, 2011


State College, or central Pennsylvania, is a marvelous place for seeing red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis). At first, I thought hawk watching was limited to hawk watch sites along the top of ridges, but I subsequently became familiar with seeing redtails most everywhere. Although they are the most common larger hawk, redtails are also beautiful.

Originally, for this page, I had some of my earliest photos from first moving to Pennsylvania in 2004, but I decided to update the page. Years passed, and I've much better photos of this magnificent hawk.

Some basics: A red-tailed hawk is a buteo, or large, bulky hawk, perhaps 18 to 24 inches long with a wingspan of 48 inches. They only weigh a few pounds.

One of my favorite scenes is to watch a redtail becoming airborne.

Red-tailed hawk taking off

Of course, a hawk zooming by is a treat to see.

Red-tailed hawk zooming past

The first two photos were of immature red-tailed hawks. In a redtail's first year, the top of the tail is a striped brown. The adult redtail has a very red tail.
Red-tailed hawk with a very red tail

Although the red is on the top of the tail, with good lighting, the red is also visible from below. Incidentally, many red-tailed hawks have a lot to say.
Red-tailed hawk talking

An immature redtail soaring directly overhead can appear oblivious to everything else.
Immature red-tailed hawk directly overhead

A few redtails allow themselves a close inspection of a photographer.
Red-tailed hawk

To conclude: A clear photo of an immature red-tailed hawk.
Immature red-tailed hawk

However many photos I have of red-tailed hawks, I'll continue taking more and more of them.

Photo note: I used a Pentax K20D, with either the SMC 1000mm reflex lens or the Sigma 150-500mm lens, for these photos taken during 2010 and 2011.  

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