Red-Tailed Hawk

Buteo jamaicensis
Range Map

The Red-Tailed Hawk is probably the most common hawk in North America. Most of us have heard its ‘cry from the sky’, even if we live on the other side of the world where this bird never visits. Its piercing scream is a stock sound in Hollywood productions, used to pass for other raptors (even for vultures).

Today, science recognises 14 subspecies of Red-Tailed Hawk:

  • B. j. harlani breeds in central Alaska through Yukon and south to British Columbia. They spend winters in the Great Plains and Midwest, south to the Gulf Coast.
  • B. j. alascensis breeds in southeastern Alaska and is resident from there south to British Columbia.
  • B. j. calurus breeds west of the Rocky Mountains from Alaska, and south to Arizona and New Mexico. They spend winters through the southern Great Plains to the Gulf of Mexico.
  • B. j. kriderii breeds in the northern Great Plains from south-central Canada south to South Dakota and Wyoming. They spend winters mainly in the southern Great Plains, and east to the Mississippi River delta.
  • B. j. fuertesi lives in Arizona and east to central Texas, and south to Mexico.
  • B. j. hadropus lives in south-central Mexico.
  • B. j. kemsiesi lives in southern Mexico and northern Central America.
  • B. j. costaricensis lives in Costa Rica and Panama.
  • B. j. fumosus lives on Islands off Nayarit (Mexico).
  • B. j. socorroensis lives on Isla Socorro (Mexico) in the Revillagigedo archipelago.
  • B. j. borealis breeds from Alberta east to Hudson Bay, Québec, and the Maritime Provinces, and south from eastern Texas to northern Florida. They spend winters from the Great Plains to New England, and south to eastern Mexico.
  • B. j. umbrinus lives in Florida.
  • B. j. jamaicensis lives in Jamaica, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
  • B. j. solitudinis lives in the Bahamas and Cuba.

I must confess, I no longer find the level of excitement in meeting these magnificent birds of prey that I did when first I began capturing bird images. That’s not because I no longer find these birds amazing. It’s more a reflection of how I choose to manage my time and energy when in the field. But that’s not to say I won’t find the inspiration to capture an image in the future.

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