Wild Files: Red-Tailed Hawks of North America Red-tailed hawk looking sideways

featurewild files: red-tailed hawks of north america

may-june 2010 • kentucky, USA

United States map Kentucky outlined

Chevron was in the early stages of a remediation project on the site of an old Indian Refining Company (IRC) refinery in Georgetown, Kentucky, which was part of Texaco Inc. and had been closed for more than 90 years.

Our field crew reported a raptor nest in the project perimeter. Two raptors had also been spotted.

named for its trademark

reddish-brown tail


up to 52 inches

male average weight

2 pounds

female average weight

3 pounds

red-tailed hawks typically feed on:

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small to medium-sized reptiles

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small mammals

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actions taken

Our Environmental Management Company (EMC) project manager immediately stopped work and established a 660-foot buffer zone around the nest.

A biologist took the following actions:

  1. Conducted a study of the entire property, discovering two nests:
  2. - One for a mating pair of red-tailed hawks with a fledgling
    - One for a species known as a sharp-shinned hawk
  3. Consulted with Kentucky's Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and learned that no permits or additional protections were required

Young red-tailed hawks fledge around six weeks of age, though their parents continue to feed them for another 1–2 months. They gradually move farther from the nest as they hone their flying and hunting abilities.

Based on Chevron best practices, we decided to maintain a 150-foot no-work perimeter to ensure the parents would not abandon the nest and leave the fledgling raptor vulnerable to extreme temperatures or predation.

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Work restarted in the adjacent area one week later

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We continued to monitor both nests for activity while maintaining the no-work perimeter

red-tailed hawks are usually monogamous and sometimes
mate for life.

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Both the male and female participate in nest-building

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The female is primarily responsible for incubating the eggs and rearing the nestlings

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The male provides most of the food during this stage, but only the female feeds the chicks

Although frequently seen soaring, red-tailed hawks prefer to attack prey from elevated perches like telephone poles.


Red-tailed hawk flying
Six weeks after the initial sighting, the juvenile raptor had matured and left the nest, enabling us to resume full operations.

During our remediation and ongoing management of the property, we continued to maintain awareness of all wildlife and encourage their long-term use of the site.

Our actions were consistent with our goal
to conserve biodiversity:
We strive to avoid or reduce the potential for significant impacts on sensitive species, habitats and ecosystems.

Wild Files is a series on Chevron.com that spans the world to cover interesting examples of how we deliver on our commitment to environmental stewardship.

Published: May 2018