36 Perkins St., PO Box 300040, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130-0030

Gerry Wright, Founder and President

Telephone: 617-524-7070


TTY/MA RELAY 800-439-2370

Friends of Jamaica Pond

History and Annual Park Keeper Award

Frederick Law Olmsted a one-man play by Gerry Wright

Nature's Class Room: Environmental Education Projects

Environmental Research Projects

Forestry Protection Projects

Emerald Necklace Bird Club

Volunteer Stewardship Program

Calendar and Meetings and Press

Memberships and Donations

Links and Resources

Contact and Email Info

"Let it be not for present use and delight alone, but let it be of such a work that our descendents will thank us for it."
Frederick Law Olmsted

Class Room:


Jamaica Pond's Albino Gray Squirrel

Great Horned Owls

Red Tailed Hawks

Butterflies and Dragonflies

Emerald Necklace Wildflowers

Pink Lady's Slipper

Great Blue Herons

Emerald Necklace Fungi (Coming Soon)

Boston's Emerald Necklace Red Tailed Hawks 

by Stephen Baird

Juvenile Red-Tailed Hawks regularly create large crowds of people watching them as they learn to hunt on Boston Common.  I was playing my hammered dulcimer on a park bench when I heard this thump right behind me.  A gray squirrel nearly ran up my leg to escape the hawk that had landed with in a foot of me.  I had my camera and took the second photo of the hawk in October 2006. It was pretty comical day as the young hawk hopped on the ground and bumped against tree limbs as it chased three squirrels running in circles around a tree trunk. 

Red Tailed Hawk - Buteo jamaicensis

Red Tailed Hawks are very common and can be found throughout Boston's Emerald Necklace from Boston Common to Olmsted Park to Franklin Park.  

The red tail feathers that inspired its name can identify adult hawks. The coloring patterns varies a lot on Red Tailed Hawks from very pale to almost totally black. Most Red Tailed Hawks have a series of dark feathers that create a "band" a cross the white chest.  Juvenile birds have white and brown striped banded tail feathers.  Young hawks  also have  yellow eyes.

Adult red tail feathers and immature striped tail feathers.

Adult birds can grow to 2 feet in size with a 4-foot wingspan and weigh 2-3 pounds. The female is larger than the male. 

The Red Tailed Hawk song is the classic hawk cry "kree-eee-ar."

The Red Tailed Hawk nests in Downtown Boston in the Granary Burial Grounds, Olmsted Park, Arnold Arboretum, Forest Hills Cemetery and Franklin Park plus many neighborhood parks and cemeteries. Look for large nests of sticks and small limbs in tall trees or even on building roofs. Usually setting up house in March with 1-5 brown blotched white eggs that hatch in April. 

Rats, mice, voles, squirrels, rabbits, snakes, birds and an occasional cat are dinner for Red Tailed Hawks. They often hunt from an elevated perch.  Juvenile birds can frequently be seen hopping on the ground foraging for food.

USGS bird indentification and breeding atlas Red Tailed Hawk web page: HERE ( Gough, G.A., Sauer, J.R., Iliff, M. Patuxent Bird Identification Infocenter. 1998. Version 97.1. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD)

Cornell University's Ornithology Department on line field guide page on Red Tailed Hawks with sample song clip HERE

University of Michigan web page on Red Tailed Hawks HERE

Immature Red Tailed Hawk caught a claw between the planks of a park bench on Boston Common on October 14, 2007. WBZ filmed the rescue by a Animal Control Officer and Park Ranger to the delight of park visitors. See video clip here:

Met this juvenile Red Tailed Hawk in Franklin Park in October 2007, just after it had caught a gray squirrel. It was very hungry and did not fly away. I watched it as it cracked bones and pulled the fur from the squirrel with its beak as it devoured the meal.  The strong talons that killed the squirrel with its grip held it down for this feast. (Note: This was the second encounter with this hawk in three days. Almost stepped on it at dusk in the woods by Scarboro Pond where it had caught another squirrel.  It was too dark to photograph. Patience and persistence are important traits for nature photographers.)

Juvenile Red Tailed in flight. A large female adult Red Tailed Hawk with Cotton Tailed Rabbit kill in Franklin Park.  An adult Red Tailed Hawk in flight with a vole. Red Tailed Hawk with pigeon in Back Bay Fens.

This adult Red Tailed Hawk fanned his tail feathers and raised his head feathers to try to scare me away from a squirrel he had caught on the golf course at Franklin Park in Novmeber 2007

NOTE:  8 x 10 matted and framed photographs are available for $100 membership donations or 11 x 17 matted and framed photographs are available for $500 membership donations to Friends of Jamaica Pond. Contact Stephen Baird at

Contact and Email Information


36 Perkins St., PO Box 300040, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130-0030

Gerry Wright, Founder and President

Telephone: 617-524-7070


TTY/MA RELAY 800-439-2370

For translations into different languages -- Arabic, Chinese, Italian, French, German, Russian, Spanish or others visit the web site:

Community Arts Advocates

Copyright 1999-2014 by Stephen Baird