Red-tailed Hawk

Photo of the Red-tailed Hawk, Guaraguao de Cola Roja

Red-tailed Hawk (Eng.), Guaraguao Colirrojo (Sp.), Buteo jamaicensis (Sci.), Resident, Puerto Rico, West Indies to northern Lesser Antilles, North and Central America.

Photo by G. Beaton from Puerto Rico's Birds in Photographs by Mark W. Oberle. Information compiled by Alan Mowbray, Interpretive Media Writer, EYNF/LEF


General Information

A common permanent resident of Puerto Rico where it is frequently seen soaring over forested areas.


Photo of the Red-tailed Hawk in flight, Guaraguao de Cola Roja en vuelo

The Red-tailed Hawk is a large brown bird with rounded, elliptical wings. It has a reddish tail which is difficult to observe from the ground. B. jamaicensis has a dark belly-band on its lightly colored underbody which is easily distinguished from below. Juvenile birds have streaked undersides. Red-tailed Hawk males measure from 19 to 25 inches (48 to 64 centimeters) in length, weighing from 24 to 46 ounces (690 to 1,300 grams). Females are slightly larger, weighing from 31 to 51 ounces (900 to 1,460 grams). Typical wingspan is 50 inches (127 centimeters).


B. jamaicensis usually sits on a high perch searching for prey below. It swoops down to catch its prey, typically rats, lizards, small birds, large insects such as crickets and grasshoppers, and even large centipedes. It will also fly above the forest canopy looking for prey. The Red-tail has a beautiful courtship ritual, with the male and female calling and circling each other while soaring high into the sky. The nest is a jumble of interwoven sticks found in the crown of a tree, containing 2 to 3 white eggs. Breeding is from January to July. Both male and female construct the nest, incubate the eggs and care for the chicks. Red-tailed Hawks can live up to 20 years in the wild. Their call is a descending keeer, similar to the sound of steam escaping from a kettle (CLICK HERE FOR RECORDING).


The Red-tailed Hawk is found in forested areas and the edges of forests.

Where to look for this animal in the EYNF

Soaring over the high cliffs above the parking lot at Yokahu tower.