Discover Nature: Red-Tailed Hawks | KBIA

Discover Nature: Red-Tailed Hawks

Jan 13, 2021

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.