Jessie the Red Tailed HawkJessie the Red-tailed Hawk

Jessie, a male red-tailed hawk, has resided at Cedar Run since 1994. During that summer the Refuge received several calls from the Moorestown area about a young red-tailed hawk that had been seen flying and landing near people. This was far from normal hawk behavior. Someone must have raised Jesse in captivity before setting him free. He was imprinted and trying to attract the attention of humans.

After he landed next to a golfer in Cinnaminson, Jessie was caught and brought to the Refuge. Since he was not taught to be afraid of people and also thinks food comes from humans, Jesse can never return to the wild.

Because Jessie is very aggressive towards other red-tails, he lives alone in an aviary in the Wildlife Housing Area. Jessie is the most vocal of our red-tailed hawks. Hearing his strong piercing scream ("KREEE-e-e-e-e") is just one of the many memorable experiences enjoyed by Refuge visitors.

Red-tailed Hawk Facts

  • Most common hawk in North America (plentiful in NJ year round)
  • Large, powerful, and aggressive
  • Found in a wide variety of habitats usually bordering open areas
  • Is diurnal (active in the daytime); frequently seen soaring
  • Easy to spot because of considerable size and rusty red tail
  • Belongs to a group of birds known as raptors, or birds of prey
  • Using superior eyesight (8 times better than a human), spots prey from perch or while flying
  • Catches and kills prey with long sharp talons and uses powerful curved beak to tear prey into bite-sized pieces
  • Eats mice and other small rodents (85-90% of diet), also rabbits, squirrels, birds, snakes, and lizards
  • Mates for life, but will take a new partner if mate dies
  • Pair builds large nest together and may use it for several years
  • Both parents care for chicks which remain in the nest five weeks
  • Rusty red tail appears in the second year of life
  • Lives 10-15 years in the wild, 20-30 years in captivity

Links to more facts about red-tailed hawks:

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