The Red-tailed Hawk (RTHA) is a member of the buteo family of high flying hawks and its length varies from 19-25". The genus name Buteo is from the Latin for a kind of falcon or hawk. The species name jamaicensis is Latin for island of Jamaica, West Indies, where the first scientific specimen came from.
The life cycle of Swainson’s Hawks provides an excellent illustration of the importance of having a hemispheric perspective on bird conservation. Using the Central and Pacific flyways this western North American species makes an annual round trip migration of about 12,000 miles to and from southern South America and the Argentine pampas.
The black speck was far out on the horizon but through binoculars I was able to see that it was a California Condor moving in our direction as we stood on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. In a matter of seconds it approached us at a speed of nearly fifty miles per hour without flapping its wings. Riding the wave of the thermal coming up from the hotter air deep in the canyon the condor suddenly arrived in full view above us and then banked to slow enough to make three circles over the gathering crowd.
If you see a small, long-winged bird hovering over an open field, most of the time it will be an American Kestrel. This type of hunting pattern is used by only a few species of birds and it is a trademark for a kestrel, which hovers by facing into the wind, flapping its wings and spreading its tail.