• American Camp parade ground looking west

    San Juan Island

    National Historical Park Washington

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  • American Camp Visitor Center on Summer Schedule

    The American Camp visitor center is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through September 1. Grounds remain open daily from dawn to 11 p.m More »

  • English Camp Visitor Contact Station on Summer Schedule

    The English Camp visitor contact station in the Royal Marine Barracks is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily through September 1. Grounds are open daily from dawn to 11 p.m.

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. Lewis Cass Hunt

Capt. Lewis Cass Hunt, who squabbled with Capt. George E. Pickett over buildings on San Juan Island, was the brother of Henry Hunt, who commanded the Union artillery at the Battle of Gettysburg. Hunt's guns would largely decimate Pickett's division before they reached the Union lines.