COMMON NAME: Red-shouldered hawk
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Buteo lineatus
Slightly smaller than the red-tailed hawk, red-shouldered hawks are dark above with rufous streaking. Reddish patches on the wrist and upper back give the appearance of red shoulders. The underside is light with rufous barring on breast and belly. The tail is dark brown with four or five white bands and a white tip. The immature bird has less coloration at the shoulders and a tail that is indistinctly barred.
Found in the eastern half of North America, generally south of the Great Lakes, and east of central Minnesota. They are found as far south as Florida and northeastern Mexico. A separate population is found along the humid Pacific coast.
Red-shouldered hawks are usually found along river valleys and moist lowland woods. They compete with red-tailed hawks for nesting sites, and this may explain some of their distribution pattern, as they may be forced into closed canopy woods that the red-tailed hawk does not use.
The nest is made of sticks and placed in a crotch high in a tree. Red-shouldered hawks reuse the same territory and nest if available in succeeding years.
Like the red-tailed hawk, this hawk will feed on a variety of prey, primarily small rodents, amphibians, and reptiles.
RAPTOR CENTER DATA:
As befitting their rare status in this part of the country, TRC admits very few red-shouldered hawks.
Once considered the most common hawk in the northeastern United States, this bird is thought to be declining in the east. It has been on the Audubon Society “Blue List” since 1972. They are not very common in Minnesota.