Red-tailed hawks are truly one of the most majestic sights in the bird kingdom.
Bulky and broad-winged, they are designed for flying, with a wingspan at an average of about four feet.
They have a large hoarse call that can be heard far and wide and last for about two to three seconds, and it is threatening enough to remind you of just how dangerous a predator they are.
Red-tailed hawks are formidable hunters, often perching on trees or poles or soaring through the sky, scanning for their meals.
Once they find one, they swoop down and snatch the little critters with their sharp, 2-inch-long talons.
But before they became these vicious and effective hunters, soaring through the skies as if they owned it, they were tiny little babies who could not keep their heads up by themselves for a while!
It is thus important, as bird-lovers, to see how the latter reaches the former stage, and today we are going to look at everything you need to know about these adorable little babies that grow into the iconic red-tailed hawks!
So without further ado, let us get into it.
What Does A Red-Tailed Hawk Baby Look Like?
Baby red-tailed hawks do not have any feathers on their body, except for their natal down, which is a primary layer of fluffy covering that protects the tiny birds from the elements.
These downy feathers are primarily white in color and have a series of mottles and patterns on them, ranging from warm tinges of orange and brown to some cooler shades of gray on the underside.
At this stage, they are weak and unable to do much of anything themselves and rely almost entirely on their parents for their survival.
What Is The Height and Weight Of A Baby Red-Tailed Hawk?
Baby red-tailed hawks are tiny and come up to only about 4 – 6 inches immediately after hatching.
They also weigh only 2 ounces generally and are so weak and small that they cannot even hold their heads up themselves at this beginning stage of their lives.
They are up and active by the second day though, showing small signs of vitality like bouncing up and down, peeping continuously, and waving their wings back and forth frequently.
What Does A Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk Look Like?
Red-tailed hawks take about 18 months to three years to fully mature sexually, after which they are considered adults.
This period between a fledgling and an adult is when they are juveniles, and they spend most of this time learning to master flight, foraging, feeding, and so on.
As it is generally understood with birds of prey, the juveniles tend to look a bit rougher and scruffier than the parents.
With red-tailed hawks though, the different color variations within the species make it a bit harder to identify the juveniles by color alone.
A good general rule to know is that most juveniles are significantly smaller than adults. Red-tailed hawks undergo molting most years, but the molting that transitions them from a fledgling to a juvenile tends to be the most dramatic.
As it changes the soft fledgling plumage into something that is harder and resembles the adult plumage more.
Once these adult feathers come to fruition though, identifying them becomes harder because of the color morphs within the species.
Paler morphs might have dark speckles on their wings, which could grow into an all-white plumage.
Similarly, other light-colored hawks might have speckly undersides that develop into a darker plumage all around.
Size is thus the most reliable indicator when trying to discern between a juvenile and an adult red-tailed hawk.
What Is A Red-Tailed Hawk Baby Called?
A baby red-tailed hawk is called an eyas. This is what they are referred to when they are still in the nesting period and have not learned to fly yet.
There are other more common terms used at different time periods to denote the stages of development like hatchling, nestling, fledgling, and so on.
How Long Do Baby Red-Tailed Hawks Stay In Their Nest? When Do They Start Flying?
Once they are in their nesting phases, a period of one month is marked by small but significant milestones like vocalizations, tearing up prey themselves, showing aggression towards intruders, using talons and wings to lash out at prey, and so on.
After about a period of 30 days, they start to regularly exercise their wings by flapping and waving it about in the nest itself.
When they hit the 48 – 50 day mark, the fledgling makes their first flight and stays within the watchful eyes of their parents as they try to figure out the ropes.
Even after they have a good idea of flight, the juveniles tend to stay within a few miles of their home base and don’t risk straying too far.
What Does A Red-Tailed Hawk Baby Eat?
Like with other birds of prey babies, red-tailed hawk babies also eat what their parents consume, but just at a smaller, more manageable level.
They are carnivorous and primarily consume a diet consisting of rodents, birds, reptiles, fishes, amphibians, and invertebrates – almost the entire animal kingdom basically.
When the baby hawks are in the nesting stage, the female is responsible for brooding while the male goes out foraging for food.
The male then provides the food to the female, who tears it up into smaller chunks and feeds the babies.
What Do Baby And Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawks Sound Like?
The first day of baby red-tailed hawks is their only silent day, as they begin emitting sounds from the second day itself.
By the second day, they start showing signs of activity and emit small and soft peeping calls, calling for their parent’s attention, or asking for food.
By the 10th day, they start emitting high whistling notes when they see adults overhead and are trying to get their parent’s attention.
There is another hunger call, which is a distinct wailing cry exerted when the parent enters their field of vision.
How Many Babies Do Red-Tailed Hawks Have In One Year?
Red-tailed hawks have a clutch consisting of about 1 – 5 eggs, and they lay one clutch per year.
The eggs are about 3 inches in length and 2 in width and have a white splotchy and buffed appearance.
On top of the white biff, there are splotches of brown, gray, or a dark purple shade. The incubation period lasts from 28 to 35 days, after which the eggs hatch over a period of 2 to 4 days.
And that was a comprehensive rundown of everything you need to know about baby red-tailed hawks.
Red-tailed hawks are such gorgeous, wonderfully talented hunters, that they are a sight to watch agape when they are soaring through the sky.
But don’t knock these little guys down, even if they look a little scruffy! It is what they eat and practice that sets the precedent for how magnificent these birds end up being, so cheers to them.
We hope you had a fun time learning with us today, and thank you for reading!
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