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

Description

A hawk of the woodlands, often heard before it is seen. The clear whistled calls of this hawk are conspicuous, especially in spring; in the east, Blue Jays often give a near-perfect imitation of this call. Over much of eastern North America the Red-shoulder has become uncommon, sticking closely to the remaining forests. Populations in Florida and California are often more visible, perhaps adapting better to open habitats.

Habitat

Bottomland woods, wooded streamsides, swamps. In east, nests in deciduous and mixed forest, with tall trees and relatively open understory, often along rivers and swamps. May move into more open habitats in winter. In west, typically in riverside forest or in oak woodland, sometimes in eucalyptus groves. Florida birds may be in pine woods, mangroves.

Feeding Diet

Includes small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, birds. Diet varies with region and season. Main items often mammals such as voles and chipmunks, at other times frogs and toads; may eat many crayfish in some areas. Also eats snakes, small birds, mice, large insects, occasionally fish, rarely carrion.

Feeding Behavior

Usually hunts by watching from a perch, either within forest or in open, swooping down when it locates prey. Sometimes flies very low in open areas, taking creatures by surprise. May use hearing as well as sight to locate prey.

Nesting

In courtship, male displays by flying upward, calling, then diving steeply. Pairs may soar together in circles, calling, high over nesting territory. Nest site is usually in deciduous tree, sometimes in conifer, located in fork of main trunk or at base of branches against trunk, usually 35-65' above ground. Nest (built by both sexes) is platform of sticks and other material, lined with bark, moss, and sprigs of green vegetation. Nest may be reused for more than one season. Eggs: Usually 3-4, sometimes 2. Pale bluish-white, blotched with brown and lavender. Incubation is mostly by female, roughly 33 days. Male brings food to female at nest, and may take a turn sitting on eggs while female eats. Young: Female remains with young most of time for first 1-3 weeks after they hatch; male brings food, female feeds it to nestlings. Young leave the nest at about 5-7 weeks after hatching, and are fed by parents for another 8-10 weeks.

Eggs

Usually 3-4, sometimes 2. Pale bluish-white, blotched with brown and lavender. Incubation is mostly by female, roughly 33 days. Male brings food to female at nest, and may take a turn sitting on eggs while female eats. Young: Female remains with young most of time for first 1-3 weeks after they hatch; male brings food, female feeds it to nestlings. Young leave the nest at about 5-7 weeks after hatching, and are fed by parents for another 8-10 weeks.

Young

Female remains with young most of time for first 1-3 weeks after they hatch; male brings food, female feeds it to nestlings. Young leave the nest at about 5-7 weeks after hatching, and are fed by parents for another 8-10 weeks.

Conservation

Far less numerous than historically in some areas, including upper midwest and parts of Atlantic Coast, but current populations thought to be stable in most regions.

Range

Mostly a permanent resident in west and south; northern birds migrate, but do not travel far. Some movement in winter as far south as central Mexico.

Listen

flight calls
typical calls #1
typical calls #2

Similar Species

adult, Eastern

Red-tailed Hawk

This is the most widespread and familiar large hawk in North America, bulky and broad-winged, designed for effortless soaring. An inhabitant of open country, it is commonly seen perched on roadside poles or sailing over fields and woods. Although adults usually can be recognized by the trademark reddish-brown tail, the rest of their plumage can be quite variable, especially west of the Mississippi: Western Red-tails can range from blackish to rufous-brown to nearly white.

adult

Broad-winged Hawk

A small hawk, common in eastern woodlands in summer. Staying around the edges of forest, Broad-wings are often not very noticeable during the breeding season, but they form spectacular concentrations when they migrate. Almost all individuals leave North America in fall, in a mass exodus to Central and South America, and sometimes thousands can be seen along ridges, coastlines, or lake shores when the wind conditions are right.

adult

Harris's Hawk

This strikingly patterned southwestern hawk is more sociable than most birds of prey. It is often seen in groups of three or more, the birds perching close together on poles or giant cactus. It may seem lethargic or tame when perched, allowing close approach; when hunting, however, it is dashing and powerful, pursuing prey in agile flight even through dense brush. Two or more Harris's Hawks may hunt cooperatively, working together to chase prey into the open.

adult male

Cooper's Hawk

A medium-sized hawk of the woodlands. Feeding mostly on birds and small mammals, it hunts by stealth, approaching its prey through dense cover and then pouncing with a rapid, powerful flight. Of the three bird-eating Accipiter hawks, Cooper's is the mid-sized species and the most widespread as a nesting bird south of Canada.

adult male

Northern Goshawk

A powerful predator of northern and mountain woods. Goshawks hunt inside the forest or along its edge; they take their prey by putting on short bursts of amazingly fast flight, often twisting among branches and crashing through thickets in the intensity of pursuit. In some years, perhaps when prey is scarce in the north, autumn invasions may bring Goshawks well to the south of their normal range in the east and into lowland valleys in the west.

adult

Gray Hawk

Widespread and common in the tropics, this small hawk enters our area mainly in southeastern Arizona, where it is limited to cottonwood and mesquite forests along a few streams. It sometimes soars above the surrounding country, but often it perches within the branches of tall trees, where its presence may be given away by its loud whistling calls. Fast and agile in flight, the Gray Hawk may slip rapidly through the trees, plucking fast-running lizards from the branches.

Vireo

iPad Promo