Red-shouldered hawks spend the winter in the southeastern states, though some have been noted in Mexico. Their summer breeding area includes the northeastern U.S. and northern midwest and some central and southern states. There is also a non-migrating population on the coast of southern California and northern Mexico.
They live in moist deciduous forests with a more open canopy for easier access to prey on the ground. They are often seen perching in trees along the edges of waterways.
Red-shouldered hawks are medium-sized hawks that reach up to 2 feet long. They have wide, roundish wings that they hold slightly forward when in flight. The wings and tail have dark and light banding. The tail’s banding has more dark color with thinner white bands. The shoulders are reddish. The chest and legs are light colored with reddish bars. They have long yellow lower legs and feet.
They hunt from a perch, often hear the water’s edge where they watch for prey.
They eat small mammals (mice, voles, gophers and chipmunks), amphibians and reptiles and sometimes songbirds.
They return to the same place every year to nest. Both parents help build and maintain the stick nest that is placed high in a deciduous tree and lined with softer materials (moss, lichens, etc.). The female lays 2-5 whitish-blue eggs with dark blotches.
Link to red-shouldered hawk coloring page.
Order: Falconiformes (or Accipitriformes)
Species: B. lineatus
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Amsel, Sheri. "Hawk (Red-shouldered)" Exploring Nature Educational Resource ©2005-2023. December 8, 2023
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