Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
The red-tailed hawk is one of the best known and most widely distributed hawks in North America. It is found throughout North Dakota with heaviest concentrations ranging from the Turtle Mountains south across the Missouri Coteau to the South Dakota state line. It prefers mixed country consisting of open pastures or fields interspersed with woods, bluffs, and streamside trees.
The red-tailed hawk is readily identified by the chestnut red on the dorsal side of the tail and a broad band of dark streaking across its white belly. It is a very opportunistic feeder and the food selection is extremely varied, but small and medium-sized rodents are the staple prey. It usually hunts while soaring and has phenomenal eyesight which enables it to see mice or other prey at a great distance.
Its breeding habits include building large nests made of twigs lined with finer material and placed 15-70 feet off the ground in a large tree. It breeds from February to June with the female laying between 1 and 5 eggs, with 2 or 3 eggs the most common. Incubation is done mostly by the female and it takes 28-32 days for the eggs to hatch. The red-tailed hawk can be seen throughout North Dakota from March until early October.