The Rufous-tailed hawk is found along both sides of the Andes clear down to Tierra del Fuego. It does not have a heavy population and its habits make it difficult to see. This makes the Rufous-tailed Hawk biology quite unknown.
It has a dark-brown back, white throat and ochre ventral parts streaked and spotted in dark-brown. These dark spots are more abundant on the flanks. The wings are long and wide with white, barred in dark-brown underwings. The tail is white and slightly barred, with grayish undertail. The thighs are cinnamon and legs dark-yellow. Juveniles have a white throat and breast, with the rest of the underparts streaked. The tail is heavily barred in gray and the malar is black.
As opposed to other hawks, it is remarkably elusive, flying away at the slightest disturbance, making it really hard to see in detail. They tend to perch on the highest branches of the trees, but when feeling observed they move to the medium part of the trees, making it very hard detect. The size and shape of their claws suggest that they prey mainly on medium-size birds, like magellanic woodpeckers and rock pigeons. There are reports of Rufous-tailed hawk preying on birds much bigger than them, like the ashy-headed goose.
The mating period starts in July or August. Along all this period until the breeding season ends, the hawks build and repair their nests. Incubation starts in mid spring and last 30 days. The chicks stay in the nest for 55 to 60 days and start to fly by midsummer.