• American Camp parade ground looking west

    San Juan Island

    National Historical Park Washington

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  • English Camp Visitor Contact Station on Winter Schedule

    The English Camp visitor contact station in the Royal Marine Barracks is closed for the season, starting September 2. Grounds are open daily from dawn to 11 p.m.

  • American Camp Visitor Center on Winter Schedule

    The American Camp visitor center is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily from September 2 to June 6, 2015. Grounds remain open daily from dawn to 11 p.m. Telephone 360-378-2240, ext. 2227 or 2226 for information. More »

Red-Tailed Hawk

red-tailed hawk
The red-tailed hawk is a common sight on the American Camp prairie and throughout San Juan Island.
NPS Photo
 

Found all over the island in abundance, you have a good chance of seeing a red-tailed hawk soaring on broad wings over the American Camp prairie.

Watch for courtship and territorial displays. Males flying over females reach down to touch her with his talons, dive steeply toward a nest. They also hover, searching for prey. They are efficient hunters, swooping down to capture small mammals, snakes, and frogs in their talons.

Adults are easy to identify with their reddish tail and dark head, but they come in a variation of plumages depending on age and color morphs. Look for the broad wings and dark band edging their underwings.

You may recognize their calls from a number of TV shows and movies, a descending, shrill, raspy scream that falls in pitch and intensity, and a shorter, piercing series of screams. Note, though, that Steller’s jays and starlings may fool you with their spot-on imitations.

 
Red-tailed hawk Fast Facts

Did You Know?

Capt. Geoffrey Phipps Hornby, RN

Capt. Geoffrey Phipps Hornby of HMS Tribune refused Governor James Douglas’s orders to land Royal Marines on San Juan Island realizing that his opposite, Capt. George Pickett, would open fire. The policy of the Royal Navy was only to fire if fired upon. More...