The Red-tailed Hawk breeds throughout most of North America, from western Alaska and northern Canada to as far south as Panama and the West Indies.
A male Red-Tailed Hawk may weigh from 690 to 1300 grams and measure 45–56 cm, while a female can weigh between 900 and 2000 grams and measure 48 to 65 cm long. Wingspan is about 114 to 133 cm. Females are up to 25% larger than males. Red-tailed Hawk plumage can be variable, depending on the subspecies and the region. The western North American population is the most variable subspecies and has three color morphs: light, dark, and intermediate or rufus. The basic appearance of the Red-tailed Hawk is consistent. The underbelly is lighter than the back and a dark brown band across the belly, formed by vertical streaks in feather patterning, is present in most color variations. The red tail, which gives this species its name, is uniformly brick-red above and pink below. The bill is short and dark, in the hooked shape characteristic of raptors.They have short,broad tails and thick,chunky wings. The cere, the legs, and the feet of the Red-tailed Hawk are all yellow. Immature birds can be readily identified at close range by their yellowish irises. As the bird attains full maturity over the course of 3–4 years, the iris slowly darkens into a reddish-brown hue. In both the light and dark morphs, the tail of the immature Red-tailed Hawk are patterned with numerous darker bars.