The Red-tailed Hawk: A Common Bird of Prey in New Brunswick

In the vast forests and open fields of New Brunswick, a fascinating variety of birds of prey can be found soaring through the skies. From majestic eagles to swift falcons, these fierce hunters play an essential role in maintaining the delicate balance of the ecosystem. In the article “The Red-tailed Hawk: A Common Bird of Prey in New Brunswick,” readers will discover a comprehensive exploration of 21 different species of hawks, owls, falcons, eagles, and vultures that call this region home. With vivid descriptions of each bird’s appearance, habitat, behavior, and range, readers will gain a deeper understanding of these magnificent creatures and their vital role in the natural world. Whether it’s the adaptable Red-tailed Hawk, the diminutive Sharp-shinned Hawk, or the migratory wonders like the Swainson’s Hawk, this article offers a captivating glimpse into the diverse avian wonders that grace the skies of New Brunswick. With beautiful range maps and additional fascinating facts about each species, readers are sure to develop a newfound appreciation for these remarkable birds.

The Red-tailed Hawk

The Red-tailed Hawk is one of the most prevalent birds of prey in New Brunswick. This majestic raptor is highly adaptable and can be found in various habitats throughout the province. With its striking appearance, unique behaviors, and wide range, the Red-tailed Hawk is a fascinating bird to study and observe.


The Red-tailed Hawk is a large bird with a wingspan that can exceed four feet. It has a robust build and powerful talons that make it an efficient hunter. Its plumage varies depending on its age and geographic location, but adults typically have a reddish-brown tail that gives the species its name. Their upperparts are dark brown, while their underparts can range from pale to dark brown with streaks. The head is usually lighter in color and often features a distinctive dark band across the belly.


The Red-tailed Hawk is known for its adaptability and can be found in a wide range of habitats, ranging from open fields and grasslands to forests and mountainous regions. It is commonly seen perched high on utility poles or other elevated structures, where it can scan the surroundings for potential prey. This bird of prey is highly adaptable and can thrive in both rural and urban environments, making it one of the most commonly observed hawks in New Brunswick.


The Red-tailed Hawk is a solitary bird that spends a significant amount of time perched and scanning the area for prey. It primarily feeds on small mammals such as mice, voles, and rabbits, but it is also known to eat birds, reptiles, and even carrion. When hunting, it will soar high in the sky, circling and using its keen eyesight to spot prey. Once a target is identified, the hawk will dive down with great speed and accuracy, using its sharp talons to capture its meal.


The Red-tailed Hawk has a wide distribution throughout North America, including New Brunswick. Within the province, it can be found in various habitats, from the coastal regions to the interior forests. While some Red-tailed Hawks are year-round residents, others migrate to warmer regions during the winter months. The range map of the Red-tailed Hawk in New Brunswick shows that it is a common sight across the province, regardless of the season.

Other Hawk Species in New Brunswick

New Brunswick is home to a diverse range of hawk species. Alongside the Red-tailed Hawk, here are some other notable hawks that can be found in the province:

Sharp-shinned Hawk

The Sharp-shinned Hawk is one of the smallest birds of prey in New Brunswick. With a compact body and short, rounded wings, this hawk is built for agility, allowing it to navigate through dense vegetation. It is often seen around bird feeders, where it preys on small birds. The Sharp-shinned Hawk has a slate-gray back, barred underparts, and a long, squared-off tail.

Cooper’s Hawk

The Cooper’s Hawk is another hawk species commonly found in New Brunswick. It is known for its skillful maneuvering through dense woods as it hunts songbirds. The Cooper’s Hawk has a medium-sized body, rounded wings, and a long tail. It exhibits a dark gray back, finely barred underparts, and a distinctive dark cap on its head.

Red-shouldered Hawk

The Red-shouldered Hawk primarily inhabits forested areas in New Brunswick. This medium-sized hawk has a broad wingspan, reddish-brown shoulders, and a distinctively banded tail. It hunts small mammals such as mice and voles, as well as amphibians and reptiles. The Red-shouldered Hawk is known for its loud, piercing call that resonates through the forest.

Broad-winged Hawk

The Broad-winged Hawk prefers the deep woods of New Brunswick and is known for its epic migrations. It has a compact body and short, rounded wings. The adult has a dark brown back and rusty-red barring on the underparts. During migration, the Broad-winged Hawk forms large flocks called “kettles” and can be seen soaring in a swirling pattern, a sight that birdwatchers eagerly await each year.

Swainson’s Hawk

The Swainson’s Hawk is a migratory bird that travels thousands of miles to Argentina. It has a slim build, long wings, and a distinctive white throat patch. The adult plumage can vary from light to dark brown, while the underparts are usually pale with fine streaks. In New Brunswick, the Swainson’s Hawk is primarily seen during its migration, making it a rare sight for local bird enthusiasts.

Rough-legged Hawk

The Rough-legged Hawk is a winter visitor to New Brunswick. It is well adapted to open areas and can be seen perched on utility poles or hovering in search of prey. This hawk has a large, stocky body, broad wings, and a distinctly feathered legs. Its plumage varies from light to dark brown, and its breast is heavily streaked. During winter, the Rough-legged Hawk adds a touch of elegance to the landscape with its graceful flight.

Great Horned Owl

While not a hawk, the Great Horned Owl is often associated with them due to its presence in the same habitats and its nocturnal hunting habits. This large and powerful owl species is a resident of New Brunswick, with distinct markings and a hooting call that is unmistakable. The Great Horned Owl has a large head with prominent ear tufts, yellow eyes, and a mottled pattern of brown, black, and white feathers. It can be found in a variety of habitats, from forests and woodlands to suburban areas. The Great Horned Owl is known for its ability to hunt a wide range of prey, including small mammals, birds, and even skunks.

In conclusion, New Brunswick is abundant with various species of hawks, each possessing its distinctive appearance, habitat preferences, behavior, and range. From the prevalent Red-tailed Hawk to the elusive Swainson’s Hawk, these birds of prey enrich the natural diversity of the province and make it a haven for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike. Keep your eyes to the skies, and you may be rewarded with the awe-inspiring sight of a hawk in flight.

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