The Red-shouldered Hawk
A Red-shouldered Hawk is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Red-shouldered Hawks. We have also put together a list of fun Red-shouldered Hawk t-shirts, Red-shouldered Hawk bird patches, birdhouses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers, and other fun bird-watching items.
About Red-shouldered Hawks
The Red-shouldered Hawk is a mid-sized bird of prey native to North America. Their breeding grounds span the eastern regions of North America ranging from the coast of California to northeastern-central Mexico. Even though most northern birds often migrate, they are permanent residents throughout most of their range. Although their numbers have reduced in some areas their population is still considered stable in most regions.
Description and Identification
Red-shouldered hawks are broad-winged hawks that are 15-23 inches long, with a wingspan of 11-14 inches. Male red-shouldered hawks generally weigh about 1.21 pounds. These birds display significant sexual dimorphism as females are at least 20% larger than males. Red-shouldered hawks have long tails, brownish heads, reddish chests, and pale bellies with horizontal reddish markings. Their wings and tails are marked with narrow white bars. When these birds are perched their characteristic red shoulders are visible. Red-shouldered hawks living in colder regions have slightly brighter plumage than the populations living in warmer regions like Florida. Juvenile red-shouldered hawks closely resemble juvenile broad-winged hawks. Adults are often confused with red-tailed hawks, but they can be differentiated upon closer examination as red-tailed hawks are larger and bulkier in comparison.
Red-shouldered Hawk Color Pattern
Adult hawks have a brown head, reddish-brown chests, and pale bellies with reddish streaks. The tail is marked with white bars and their red shoulder is visible when they are perched. They are dark with pale spots on their upperparts and have yellow long legs.
Red-shouldered Hawk Size
They are medium-sized to large kinds of birds with their body length spanning 38-58cm. Their wingspan is between 90-127cm and body weight averaging 550g. Females are slightly larger with their lengths at 47-61cm and an average weight of 700g.
Red-shouldered Hawk Behavior
They soar and circle with their wings and tail spread out when searching for prey which is typical with the Buteo Hawk. The Red-shouldered Hawk flaps its wings fast and glides especially when flying under canopies.
They perch near wooded water bodies and wait for prey to emerge under them. In suburban areas, they seem unconcerned and approachable contrary to the wild where they would flush away easily.
Red-shouldered Hawk Food
Small mammals are the most important part of the diet of Red-shouldered Hawks. The largest
amongst these are squirrels and rabbits. Other animals they hunt are reptiles and amphibians such
as lizards, toads, frogs, snakes, crayfish, and small birds. These birds lookout for prey while being
perched on treetops or while flying over their hunting sites. Red-shouldered Hawks locate their prey
by efficiently using their sight and hearing. Once they locate their prey they swoop down and kill it
immediately. These intelligent hawks have been observed caching excessive food. Red-
shouldered Hawks have especially good vision, as a result of which they are excellent hunters.
Birds eaten by Red-shoulder Hawks include starlings, sparrows, and doves.
They feed on small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and small birds. Their diet tends to vary with season and their locations. The mammals they eat range from rats, voles, and chipmunks. Amphibians are frogs and toads. They may also eat crayfish depending on their location.
Red-shouldered Hawk Habitat
Red-shouldered Hawks generally inhabit forests. They can commonly be found in mixed conifer-
deciduous forests, deciduous swamps, hardwood stands, and riparian and oak woodlands. Red-
shouldered hawks ensure there is an open canopy around their habitats as they need it for hunting.
Small numbers of Red-shouldered Hawks can also be found in suburban areas where a number of
trees are present around human habitation.
They are mainly forest raptors commonly preferring bottomland woods, wooded stream banks, and swamps. In the east of North America, they are accustomed to a deciduous and mixed forest.
Range and Migration
Red-shouldered hawks are medium-sized birds of prey that have a breeding range that extends
from North America to northeastern-central Mexico going from the coast of California. These
hawks are permanent residents through most of their range, but hawks residing in the
northernmost portion might migrate to central Mexico during winters. The range and habitat of Red-
shouldered hawks are threatened because of deforestation.
Red-shouldered Hawk Life Cycle
The oldest Red-shouldered Hawk was alive for 19 years 11 months but in the wild, they average 2 years. Females lay 3-4 eggs. They incubate the eggs for roughly 33 days. The young fly out of the nest 5-7 weeks after hatching.
Red-shouldered Hawk Nesting
Red-shouldered hawks are monogamous birds that aggressively defend their territories. These
birds make a series of elaborate flight displays during courtship. One of these is called the “sky-
dance”. Red-shouldered hawks breed between the months of April and July. These birds are
known to reuse their nests — refurbishing them as required. Both members of the pair are responsible
for building and maintaining their nests. These birds build large nests out of twigs, sticks, green
sprigs, and leaves. Following copulation, female Red-shouldered hawks lay about 3-4 eggs. The
incubation process begins with the first laid egg and lasts for approximately 33 days.
Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes
At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.
Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Red-shouldered Hawks
The most common types of bird watching binoculars for viewing Red-shouldered Hawks are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.
Red-shouldered Hawk T-shirts
If you love the Red-shouldered Hawk you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.
Red-shouldered Hawk Iron On Patches
Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron-on patches. Our bird-watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen and identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.
The Red-shouldered Hawk is a great iron-on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.
Red-shouldered Hawk Stickers
Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Red-shouldered Hawk. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month.
Bird Feeders for Red-shouldered Hawks
There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.
Best Bird Houses for Red-shouldered Hawks
There are many types of birdhouses. Building a birdhouse is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 birdhouses have become our favorites. Getting a birdhouse for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these birdhouses but they have been worth the higher price and look great.