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Red-Tailed Hawk "Opie"

Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis (RTHA)

ORDER: Accipitriformes

FAMILY: Accipitridae


Opie is a male Red-tailed Hawk that came to Cape Fear Raptor Center with a broken left wing in 2014. While the break in his wing has healed, Opie is non-releasable because the break did not heal properly. He can fly, but not hunt as a Red-tailed Hawk needs to. Red-Tail Hawks hover while hunting and the injury prevents that. Opie has been in our care ever since and has become a popular education ambassador.


Red-Tails are probably the most common hawk in North America and has a thrilling, raspy scream that sounds exactly like a raptor should sound. Most Red-tailed Hawks are rich brown above and pale below, with a streaked belly and, on the wing underside, a dark bar between shoulder and wrist. The tail is usually pale below and cinnamon-red above, though in young birds it’s brown and banded. Red-tailed Hawks soar above open fields, slowly turning circles on their broad, rounded wings. Other times you’ll see them atop telephone poles, eyes fixed on the ground to catch the movements of a vole or a rabbit, or simply waiting out cold weather before climbing a thermal updraft into the sky. If you’ve got sharp eyes you’ll see several individuals on almost any long car ride, anywhere.

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