Breeds throughout most of North America, from the interior of Alaska and northern Canada to as far south as Panama and the West Indies. It is one of the most common members within the genus of Buteo in North America or worldwide. The diet of red-tailed hawks is highly variable and reflects their status as opportunistic generalists, but in North America, it is most often a predator of small mammals such as rodents. Prey that is terrestrial and diurnal is preferred so types such as ground squirrels are preferential where they naturally occur. Large numbers of birds and reptiles can occur in the diet in several areas and can even be the primary foods.
Commonly seen in this area hunting along the margins of the highways and perched on roadside trees or the edges of forested areas. The red tail feathers are best seen from above or when the birds turns in the air or are perched with their backs to you to display the upper surface of the tail – see the second photograph.