Living Bird Magazine
Living Bird Magazine
Red-shouldered HawkButeo lineatus
- ORDER: Accipitriformes
- FAMILY: Accipitridae
Whether wheeling over a swamp forest or whistling plaintively from a riverine park, a Red-shouldered Hawk is typically a sign of tall woods and water. It’s one of our most distinctively marked common hawks, with barred reddish-peachy underparts and a strongly banded tail. In flight, translucent crescents near the wingtips help to identify the species at a distance. These forest hawks hunt prey ranging from mice to frogs and snakes.More ID Info
Find This Bird
One of the best ways to find Red-shouldered Hawks is to learn their distinctive whistle. Listen for these birds in and around wet forests, where you may find them hunting from a perch along stream or pond. In spring you may see Red-shouldered Hawks circling high above their nesting territory; they usually show pale crescents near their wingtips, where the sun shines through.
- Busardo Pechirrojo (Spanish)
- Buse à épaulettes (French)
- Cool Facts
- Although the American Crow often mobs the Red-shouldered Hawk, sometimes the relationship is not so one-sided. They may chase each other and try to steal food from each other. They may also both attack a Great Horned Owl and join forces to chase the owl out of the hawk's territory.
- The Great Horned Owl often takes nestling Red-shouldered Hawks, but the hawk occasionally turns the tables. While a Red-shouldered Hawk was observed chasing a Great Horned Owl, its mate took a young owl out of its nest and ate it.
- Red-shouldered Hawks return to the same nesting territory year after year. One Red-shouldered Hawk occupied a territory in southern California for 16 consecutive years.
- By the time they are five days old, nestling Red-shouldered Hawks can shoot their feces over the edge of their nest. Bird poop on the ground is a sign of an active nest.
- The Red-shouldered Hawk is divided into five subspecies. The four eastern forms contact each other, but the West Coast form is separated from the eastern forms by 1600 km (1000 mi). The northern form is the largest. The form in very southern Florida is the palest, having a gray head and very faint barring on the chest.
- The oldest-known Red-shouldered hawk was a female, and at least 25 years, 10 months old when she was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in California in 2000. She had been banded in the same state in 1974.