Red-tailed Hawk

RTHA Fire 01- HaraRed-tailed Hawk
Buteo jamaicensis

A common hawk in the Bay Area, Red-tailed Hawks like to perch on tall trees or telephone poles near open fields to watch for their next meal. Expert hunters with keen eyesight, they will swoop down to catch a mouse, small bird or snake.

We have two resident Red-tailed Hawks. Our female, Fire (named for her coloration and her feisty attitude), was found as a juvenile in Castro Valley. Other than being very thin, there was nothing physically wrong with her. Although our wildlife hospital made several attempts to return her to the wild in 1995, she never hunted on her own and approached people for food, indicating she is habituated to human care.

Although Fire is one of our oldest raptor ambassadors, she is not showing any signs of slowing down. She is still participating in daily training and enrichment with staff and volunteers. Her favorite enrichment? A nice rabbit pelt. She will mantle, or protectively spread her wings, over her treat and show off that signature Red-tailed Hawk scream to let everyone know “This is mine!”.

Rufous hatched in 2002 in Oregon. When he was only a year old, Rufous collided with an object and injured his left wing. He was treated at another animal hospital before arriving here in 2003. Rufous gets his name from being a dark or “rufous” morph, which causes a dark coloration all over his body.

Rufous has one of the more severe wing injuries of any of our raptors. Due to his inability to get any lift off of the ground, Rufous has all of his raptor equipment taken off in our Nature Cove area (with Animal Keeper supervision, of course). He likes to run very fast and find the best spot for sunning!

He often vocalizes in his mew in the later afternoon, a time of day lovingly nicknamed by staff as the “Rufous Hour.”