A young bird that let me walk right up to it. This is called “Young and Dumb” in raptor circles. The cottontail was no doubt his first major kill and he was proud of it.
This one is holding a mouse it caught.
A sitting bird facing you can be difficult to identify, but the Red-Tailed around here have what I call a speckled cummerbund around their waists.
This bird is showing you the best identification marks. The patches of brown between the shoulder and wrist, the speckled cummerbund, the red tail and (for me) the dark hooks beyond the wrist patches.
The red tail isn’t present until the bird is mature at three to four years. It is probably illegal for me to have this tail even though it was taken from roadkill.
This photo illustrates why it would be wise if we stopped and kicked roadkill into the ditch.