© 2021 University of Missouri - KBIA
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Arts and Culture

Discover Nature: Red-Tailed Hawks

A red-tailed hawk with brown and white feathers blends into its surroundings, perched on a tree branch in a snow storm.
Watch for red tailed hawks perched on roadsides and field edges as they hunt for snakes, squirrels, mice, and other small animals.

While cruising down a Missouri highway this winter, keep an eye out for a predator on the prowl.

 

Often known as “highway hawks” for their roadside perches, red-tailed hawks are “brown above, and white below,” and adults have a rust-red tail with a narrow black band near the end.  They stand nearly two feet tall with a wingspan more than double their height.  

 

These hawks usually nest in open woodlands or in trees in grasslands and crops – frequently within city limits – hunting snakes, squirrels, mice, and other small animals.  

 

Pairs of hawks may stay together for years on the same territory, sometimes renovating the same nest with fresh green leaves or pine needles, which repel parasites, and help hide their young nestlings.

 

This Missouri-native and year-round resident of Missouri is protected by federal and state laws and is considered sacred by many American Indian tribes.  

 

Learn more about red-tailed hawks with the Missouri Department of Conservation’s online field guide

 

Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Related Content