Red-Tailed Hawk

News! 5/4/2005 Hawks make home on historic tower (Daily Bruin)

Scientific Name: Buteo jamaicensis

Pictures: (click for larger images)

Red-Tailed Hawk in tall tree on South Campus, Sept. 2002.  Photo by Jason Finley.
Red-Tailed Hawk soaring over the Native Fragment (Northwest corner of campus), Feb 2005.  Photo by Jason Finley.
Red-Tailed Hawk soaring over the Native Fragment (Northwest corner of campus), Feb 2005.  Photo by Jason Finley.

A pair of red-tailed hawks, building a nest in the Mann Fox Theater tower in Westwood Village (5/4/2005).   Photo by Peter Varshavsky/UCLA Daily Bruin.  Reused with permission.
I caught this Red-tailed Hawk giving itself a good scratch!  9/4/05.  Photo by Jason Finley.
This  juvenille red-tailed hawk made a conspicuous afternoon appearance on the grass just south of Kerckhoff Hall.  Luckily I was prepared with my camera.  (11/2/2005) Photo by Jason Finley.
Same juvenille red-tailed hawk on 11/2/2005.  It caught a rat, in broad daylight, and flew up to enjoy its meal on the roof of the MS4000 lecture hall.  It didn't seem to pay any mind to the cluster of students wielding cameraphones (or me with my digital SLR & zoom lens). Photo by Jason Finley.
Red-Tailed Hawk Illustration

-Illustration by Robert C. Stebbins from "Birds of the Campus" (1947) by Dr. Loye Miller.

Description: Very large, the largest bird you will see on campus.  1.5'-2' in length (beak to tail) and about 4' in wingspan.  There is apparently a lot of variation in plumage (feather color), but the ones I've seen on campus have rusty red-brown tails, dark brown backs and wings, and light tannish chest and belly.  They are also distinguished by large yellowish eyes, a large fearsome beak, and large talons.  When seen flying from below, their wings are whitish underneath with stripes or bands of brown.

Sound: Listen to a Red-tailed Hawk's scream!  Link is to the sound page for this bird from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's All About Birds.

Commonality/Seasonality: Uncommon, but year-round.

Location: There seems to be at least one hawk whose range covers the campus.  If you see one, and it'll just be one unless you find a nest, it will be perched way up high somewhere, looking for prey.  I've seen them perched in tall trees, on top of a lamppost behind Powell Library, and on the corner of the roof of Knudsen Hall.  You may also see one soaring overhead, again looking for prey.  So remember to take a glance UPWARD while walking around campus!  Oh yes, and the native fragment, in the extreme northwest corner of campus, is probably a very good place to see them, as well as red-shouldered hawks.  One has also been spotted swooping from the trees next to Janns Steps to the tower at the Fowler Museum.

Lucien Plauzoles, Vice-Presidentof the Santa Monica Bay Audubon Society, says: "The former creek area near the dance bldg/ex women's gym is a favorite pigeon-hunting field of the red-tails that live north of Sunset, even when humans are present." This is the large grassy quad at the foot of the Janss Steps and between the two buildings now called the Student Activities Center and Kaufman Hall (formerly The Men's and Women's Gyms); this was once where Stone Canyon Creek ran.

News!  5/4/2005 Hawks make home on historic tower (Daily Bruin).  Two red-tailed hawks have made a nest in the tower of the Mann Fox movie theater in Westwood Village.  Go see them!  [Update: Dominik Jacobs reports that he talked to someone at the Mann theater who has climbed up into the tower and seen the nest, and said that it's been there for years.  I also talked to Stan himself, of Stan's Donuts across the street, and he estimated that the hawks had been there for over ten years, but hardly anyone ever looks up to see them.]

Notes: Preys on squirrels and pigeons for sure, probably other things too, like rats (yes we have rats on campus!).

Here is a cool picture gallery of some red-tailed hawks that live at the Kaiser Hospital in Harbor City (off the 110 near Long Beach).

Historical: In 1947, the Red-Tailed Hawk was known as the Western Red-Tailed Hawk (buteo borealis calurus).  Here is what Dr. Loye Miller wrote about this bird:

The only large soaring hawk that is likely to occur on the campus.  Several records up to 1940.  It will doubtless decrease with the settlement of the Westwood area.

-Miller, Loye.  "Birds of the Campus, University of California, Los Angeles," from University of California Syllabus Series, No. 300.  Text by Loye Miller, illustrations by Robert C. Stebbins.  Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1947.



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