Red-tailed Hawk Notecard

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Model: NC-266
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Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

Red-tailed hawks are one of the most far-ranging and recognizable birds in all of the U.S. and Canada. Belonging to a group called buteos, or soaring hawks, their broad, rounded wings and fan-shaped tails take full advantage of rising warm air currents. Look for them circling overhead on clear, still days, and watch for them perched on telephone poles along country roads and city highways looking for rodents, insects and rabbits. Listen for their loud, frequent call; a wheezy, down-slurred kleeeeeer.

Adult pairs mate for life and perform spectacular aerial acrobatics in the spring as part of courtship and territorial behavior. Together they build a large nest of sticks in a tree or on a cliff. The female lays 1-5 eggs and both sexes share the duties of incubating the eggs and feeding the young.

Many cultures respect hawks for their grace and their ability to adapt to changes in their environment. Because they are observant and clear-sighted, they challenge us to take a broader view. Red-tailed hawks are common and easy to observe. When you see one, pay attention to the qualities they inspire.

The watercolor on the front of this card is a portrait of Sunshine, a red-tailed hawk, who was shot in the left wing and leg. Despite months of care with a wildlife rehabilitator, Sunshine could not extend her wing enough to fly and survive in the wild. As a licensed Environmental Educator, I adopted Sunshine and trained her to sit on my gloved arm to allow people a close look at the raw beauty of these birds. Together we have given hundreds of presentations, educating people on the important role these raptors serve in the wild. This painting shows Sunshine's injured left wing draping over her back like a cape, as she sits perched above her homeland in the Catskill Mountains of New York where she once flew free. Now she is an ambassador for all birds, a reminder to respect all living creatures.

artwork by Camille Doucet © 2000 

text by Kara Jean Hagedorn

Tags: birds,