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Birds of Prey in Oklahoma Red Tailed Hawk
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Birds of Prey - Pages

Buteo jamaicensis

OTHER NAME: Chicken Hawk; Hen Hawk

Red Tailed Hawk STATUS IN OKLAHOMA:
Uncommon to common summer resident and common winter resident in open woods intermingled with fields and pastures; less common in extensive forests of eastern Oklahoma and treeless plains of western Oklahoma.

"Oklahoma Bird Life" by: Frederick M. & A. Marguerite Baumgartner

Red Tailed Hawk
Copyright ©
Greg Gothard, 1995
The Red--tailed Hawk is one of nature's best examples of the system of ecological checks and balances, as it feeds almost entirely upon rodents. A magnificent bird, it soars on the currents of the upper air. Hundreds of feet above the earth, it can distinguish an earth brown rat scurrying across a bare hen yard. Plummeting down upon its prey, it is shot by a enraged farmer, who discovers too late the true killer of his baby chicks, the rat in the dead hawk's talons.

And now the Redtail's mate must carry on alone. in a gnarled old oak deep in a wooded ravine is a mass of sticks and twigs that the Redtails had used from time to time for a decade. this year they had cleaned out the winter's accumulation of debris, strengthened the foundations, and laid a fresh new lining in the spacious interior. By mid--March three spotted eggs already contained well - developed embryos,and the old bird had been setting like a barnyard hen, making only brief forays for food.

When the chicks hatch, the mother's duties will be doubled. Risking the danger of exposure to weather and enemies, she must leave them to scour the woods and fields. Ground squirrels, rabbits, rats, mice, snakes, grasshoppers, cattle grubs, and crawfish are carried to the nest in endless succession. Can she be blamed too severely if, in the harried search for food, she discovers a chicken yard ?

Almost anymore who has raised poultry can relate one or more "chicken hawk" tails. Unique was a veteran who operated a poultry farm. He observed that he did not begrudge the hawks a few hens occasionally, for they usually took the sick and weak, and at the same time they destroyed rats and mice in far larger proportions than fowl, healthy or diseased. Down along the creek he found a bulky nest high in an old elm. And so he posted the land, and the birds continued to soar in all their majesty over pasture and hillside and hen house. The "No Hunting" sigh protected only his own few acres. The Redtails protected far more.