Red-shouldered HawkButeo lineatus

adult, Florida
Marvin R. Hyett, M.D./VIREO
adult, Western
Hugh P. Smith, Jr. & Susan C. Smith/VIREO
adult, Florida
Arthur Morris/VIREO
adult, Southern
Greg Lasley/VIREO
juvenile, Florida
Arthur Morris/VIREO
juvenile, Northern
Richard Crossley/VIREO
adult, Northern
Brian K. Wheeler/VIREO
adult, Florida
Brian K. Wheeler/VIREO
adult, Western
Frank Schleicher/VIREO
adult, Southern
Arthur Morris/VIREO
juvenile, Southern
Brian K. Wheeler/VIREO
juvenile, Western
Richard Crossley/VIREO
adult male and female, Southern
Greg Lasley/VIREO
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk

Description

16-24" (41-61 cm). W. 3'4" (1 m). A large, long-winged hawk with white barring on dark wings, rusty shoulders, pale underparts barred with rust, and narrowly banded tail. In flight shows translucent area near tip of wing, visible from below. Young birds streaked below; best distinguished from young Red-tailed Hawks by somewhat smaller size, narrower tail, longer, narrower wings, and absence of white chest.

Voice

Shrill scream, kee-yeeear, with a downward inflection.

Listen

flight calls
typical calls #1
typical calls #2

Habitat

Deciduous woodlands, especially where there is standing water.

Range

Breeds from Minnesota east to New Brunswick and south to Gulf Coast and Florida, and on Pacific Coast in California. Winters in breeding range north to southern New England.

Discussion

The Red-shouldered Hawk prefers lowlands, especially swampy woods and bogs. There it hunts by watching quietly from a low perch, dropping down to capture snakes and frogs. It also eats insects and small mammals. Normally shy, these birds become tame if they are not persecuted and in some places may nest in suburban areas. During courtship a pair can be quite noisy, wheeling in the sky above their nesting territory and uttering their distinctive whistled scream.

Nesting

2 or 3 white eggs, spotted with brown, in a large mass of leaves and twigs placed 20-60' (6-18 m) up in a forest tree.

Similar Species

adult, Eastern

Red-tailed Hawk

18-25" (46-64 cm). W. 4' (1.2 m). A large stocky hawk. Typical light-phase birds have whitish breast and rust-colored tail.

adult

Broad-winged Hawk

13-15" (33-38 cm). W. 33" (84 cm). A stocky, pigeon-sized hawk. Adult plain brown above, barred with rusty color below, with broad black-and-white tail bands.

adult

Harris's Hawk

18-23" (46-76 cm). W. 3' 7" (1.1 m). A black, crow-sized hawk with chestnut shoulders and thighs, white on rump and base of tail, and white tail tip. Immatures similar but more streaked.

adult male

Cooper's Hawk

14-20" (36-51 cm). W. 28" (71 cm). A crow-sized hawk, with long tail and short rounded wings. Adult slate-gray above, with dark cap, and finely rust-barred below.

adult male

Northern Goshawk

20-26" (51-66 cm). W. 3' 6" (1.1 m). A robust hawk with a long narrow tail, short rounded wings, and bold white eyebrow.

adult

Gray Hawk

16-18" (41-46 cm). W. 3' (91 cm). A small compact hawk with a yellow cere; pale gray above with white underparts finely barred with gray, and bold white bands on tail.

Vireo

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