White-tailed HawkButeo albicaudatus

adult
Brian K. Wheeler/VIREO
juvenile
Brian K. Wheeler/VIREO
juvenile
Brian K. Wheeler/VIREO
adult
Jim Culbertson/VIREO
adult, dark morph
Doug Wechsler/VIREO
adults
Kevin Schafer/VIREO
adult with nestlings
Tom Vezo/VIREO
White-tailed Hawk

Description

21-23" (53-58 cm). W. 4' (1.2 m). A large stocky hawk. Adult gray above, white below, with narrow but conspicuous black band on its short white tail, and rufous shoulder patch. Immature birds dark with gray tail.

Voice

A musical ke-ke-ke-ke-ke or cutta-cutta-cutta-cutta.

Habitat

Coastal prairies, grasslands, and semiarid scrub.

Range

Resident in southern Texas. Also in American tropics.

Discussion

This handsome and conspicuous hawk is a common sight in south Texas, where it is usually seen perched along highways on telephone poles, fence posts, or dead trees. It mainly preys on rabbits, but this bird is an opportunist, gathering in flocks with other hawks at brush fires to feed on rodents, rabbits, lizards, and insects driven out by the flames. Like related hawks, it rides the air currents on motionless wings, often soaring to great heights.

Nesting

2 dull-white or pale bluish eggs, unmarked or lightly spotted with brown, in a grass-lined nest of sticks in a low bush, cactus, or small tree.

Similar Species

adult, Eastern

Red-tailed Hawk

18-25" (46-64 cm). W. 4' (1.2 m). A large stocky hawk. Typical light-phase birds have whitish breast and rust-colored tail.

adult, light morph

Swainson's Hawk

18-22" (46-56 cm). W. 4' 1" (1.2 m). A large hawk, uniform brown above, white below with warm-brown breast; tail dark brown and indistinctly banded. Longer, more pointed wings than Red-tailed Hawk.

Vireo

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