On last Friday's Allens Pond Massachusetts Audubon Sanctuary bird walk, we had a few interactions with juvenile Red-tailed Hawks. What makes it interesting, is that the juveniles are much less skittish than the adults and do allow close encounters without flying off.
The Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) is one of the most common buteos in North America, ranging from Weston Alaska and northern Canada to has far south as Panama and the West Indies. Its scientific name comes from it being first found on the island of Jamaica. There are at least 14 recognized subspecies, varying in appearance and range. However, the basic appearance of the Red-tailed Hawk is consistent with the underbelly lighter than the back, a dark brown band across the belly, the tail is uniformly brick-read above and pink below, and it's Bill was shot and dark. One of the ways to tell a juvenile red-tailed hawk from an adult is the color of its eye. Juveniles have a yellow iris while adults irises are a reddish-brown hue.
The first encounter with the red-tailed hawk was right at the field station, we were getting ready to start our walk, when we noticed a large brown bird disappear in front of the field station. At first we thought it was a Harrier, but it didn't appear. I walked to the side of the field station and in the small tree at the side of the field station, the hawk was sitting. We will able to get good views of the hawk, it then flew across the street and landed on a railing of a porch where it just stayed for a while. We then encountered another red-tailed Hawk down by the marsh in a tree.
And when we traveled to the grasslands portion of the Allens Neck section of the sanctuary. We found another juvenile red-tailed hawk in an old tree, where it stayed as we slowly walked by.and were able to get close observation of the hawk.
Finally, we had a juvenile soaring overhead, as it was searching for food.