When showing off its acrobatic skills in the air the Red-tailed hawk can travel at 30-65 km/hour.

Kree-eee-ar! Have you heard this thrilling, raspy raptor’s scream which seems to rule the sky? TV shows and Hollywood movies would have you believe this screech belongs to the mysterious and magical Bald or Golden eagle.  Yet, these eagles’ calls are neither awe inspiring nor the embodiment of a magical raptor; instead, they consist of either weak high pitched whistles or a series of wip-wip-wonk-wonk. Most of us would agree these calls are not overly impressive.

What raptor possesses such a wondrous and commanding screech?

You may be surprised to know it is the Red-tailed Hawk. They are common around Wilden, throughout the Okanagan and Shuswap.  The Red-tailed Hawk’s name is derived from its fanned shaped red tail.  The red tail is easily visible against its white and dark streaked breast, and its yellow legs. The Red-tailed Hawk has bulky and broad wings, and the female is distinguished from the male due to her larger size.  It is important to note that many colour morphs exist with this raptor.

Every time I hear the Red-tailed Hawk’s call, I stop to listen with rapt attention, as I watch them soar through the sky demonstrating their acrobatic skills.  Red-tailed Hawks have been known to soar straight up then freefall at extreme speeds even while interlocking talons with a female during courting. They often can be seen sitting atop telephone poles watching with keen eyes for their next meal. They mostly eat small mammals but will also eat reptiles and birds; however, it is very rare for them to go after small house pets.

Watch for the flash of a red tail, and listen for their amazing and distinctive scream. Whenever I tell people that what they are hearing is not an eagle they are surprised. Why not learn more about this common, yet interesting raptor and share your knowledge with others.

Please comment on your encounters and sightings.

 

-Article by Flora McLeod