While these birds are common, we don't see them every day. But if your commute takes you by a hawk's hunting grounds, you may see it on multiple occasions. The bird is large, around three pounds plus or minus, and compact looking. The short tail, if you are close enough to see it or are using binoculars, is indeed red, but more of a brick red rather than a bright red color.
Once you first recognize a red-tailed hawk, perhaps in silhouette on a perch or flying across a road, it's a snap to identify again. Consider making it a challenge for the family: see who can spot the first hawk on a gray winter day.
[Originally published in January, 2014.]