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Hollywood's Voice of Choice

Feb 03, 2019

You’ve heard them in scores of movies and TV shows.  But what you see is often not the same as what you hear.  

Red-tailed hawks have a raspy scream that calls out for attention.  Often their sound is chosen for eagles, other hawks, or heard in the background of scary movies.  Eagles have a softer, higher sound, so Hollywood editors tend to choose the stronger call of the Red-tailed hawk as their go-to-voice for eagles. As a result of this creative license,  many people have the wrong impression of exactly what bald eagles sound like.  You can hear the calls of red-tails and bald eagles in the media gallery below.

Watch and listen for red-tailed hawks soaring over open fields and perching on poles as they seek out their prey.  You may also spot them during courting, tumbling together in pairs in the sky.

Soaring Red-tails

  • Many Native American tribes consider red-tailed hawks and their feathers sacred.
  • The red-tailed hawk plays a vital role in controlling animal populations. They’ll occasionally prey upon small birds, but they mostly like to prey on rodents and other small mammals.
  • Pairs may stay together for years on the same territory. Nesting is in mid-March, the earliest nesting time of all Missouri hawks. They may build a new nest of sticks and bark or renovate the same nest used the year before. Nests that have been used for years may be three or more feet high. The birds usually bring fresh greenery to the nest, sprigs of leaves or pine needles, until the young birds, usually two, leave the nest. The fresh greens repel parasites and help hide the nestlings.
  • Looking to catch a glimpse of the red-tailed hawk? We recommend these spots in Missouri: Black Hawk Access, the James D. Christie Conservation Area and the Marshall I. Diggs Conservation Area.

Special thanks to Mike Blair Outdoors for the red-tailed hawk footage in the video below.



Red-tailed hawk in flight
Red-tailed hawks have a fierce voice that is often dubbed for eagles in Hollywood movies.

Red-Tailed Hawks

Watch Red-tails in action doing what they do best
Watch Red-tails in action doing what they do best

3-11 Bird,Eagle Bald Eagle_Call.mp3

bald eagle up close
Here's what a bald eagle really sounds like


I stood on the powerline at Buckman Laboratory Sunday February 3rd and saw 2 Red Tailed Hawks performing this action. One hawk was doing all the circling and calling. Very short breaks in between calls. This morning Feb. 5th I heard the radio advertisement for Nature Notes and came to check it out. Timely article. Thanks

You're welcome. Glad the timing worked out so well!

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